Communities behind flood walls smashed by insurance bills, not water

Published: 2nd April 2024

Queensland homeowners are being slapped with $10,000-a-year flood insurance hikes despite living in towns ringed by flood levee banks that have protected them against floodwater for decades.

Queensland councils are demanding answers from the insurance industry after receiving complaints from residents that bills have soared – in at least one case from $3500 to $13,500 a year.

Murweh Shire Mayor Shaun ‘Zoro’ Radnedge said he feared residents would have no choice but to drop their insurance, meaning they were at risk of losing everything if their homes caught fire or were otherwise damaged or destroyed.

Balonne Shire Mayor Samantha O’Toole said residents in her shire had been hit with 100 per cent price rises year on year on year and soaring insurance bills risked a damaging knock-on effect for housing availability and affordability.

Mayor Radnedge said he had called insurance companies to ask how they were calculating the soaring premiums only to be told they did not realise Charleville had flood-proofing levee banks.

“We are really asking the question of the insurance companies in Australia why our insurance premiums, especially in the Murweh Shire have risen sometimes up to 500 per cent,” Mayor Radnedge said.

“We are asking why because we have mitigation in place, we have a levee bank in Augathella and in Charleville but we have seen these huge rises in these places.

“Council and government have put a lot of money into maintaining that mitigation and we’re asking where does the mapping come from that insurance companies are using to make the assessments on these insurance policies.

“We’ve had rises from $3500 to $13,500. We advocated on behalf of that resident and the insurance company came back and said they were not even aware that we have a levee bank in place in Charleville.

“So my question, and South West Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils’ question, is where are these insurance companies getting their information from as far as flood mapping goes.

“There’s a huge deficiency all across Australia and we need the insurance companies to be more accountable.

“It’s really scary in that people are choosing not to have insurance.

“They can’t afford it. We are talking sometimes up to $270 a week just to have that insurance.

“Just imagine, if you are a landlord and your insurance is $270 a week, and you are charging $350 a week in rent, you are not making anything out of that investment.

“Where do we go to here from here?

“All our communities here in southwest Queensland have levee banks and we need the government to step in here and help us out – where is that flood mapping derived from and where do the insurance companies take that information.” 

Mayor O’Toole said towns in her Balonne Shire – including St George, Thallon, Dirranbandi, Bollon and Mungindi – were protected by levees, but insurers were still raising premiums even though none had been flooded.

“Councils and government are spending a lot of money maintaining these levees, but the insurance premiums aren’t recognising that,” Mayor O’Toole said.

“We have a housing shortage and these premiums could make it worse, as to get a mortgage you need insurance cover.

“If fewer people can afford insurance then we are going to have fewer homes available, which will just exacerbate the housing shortage.”

Councils at last year’s Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) annual conference backed calls for affordable, available flood cover for Queenslanders.

“There has been a dramatic rise in the cost of flood insurance premiums faced by Queensland homeowners in the wake of recent natural disasters,” LGAQ Chief Executive Officer Alison Smith said.

“This surge in premiums has resulted in financial hardship for homeowners, as some have been offered unaffordable premiums, whilst others have been denied insurance coverage. 

“Councils have invested significantly in flood mitigation projects since 2012, yet the flood insurance costs hinders the effectiveness of these mitigation efforts and poses financial challenges for homeowners and councils alike.

“The LGAQ calls on the State and Federal governments to urgently implement measures to alleviate the financial burdens imposed by unaffordable flood insurance premiums.”

Murweh Shire Mayor Shaun ‘Zoro’ Radnedge grabs here.

For more information, please contact:

Dan Knowles, Media Advisor
Local Government Association of Queensland