A landlord whose property was hit by a hailstorm will have her roof replaced after a dispute ruling determined that her insurer inappropriately conducted repairs that failed to identify all damage and caused additional issues.
The complainant lodged her claim after a hailstorm severely damaged the roof of her property in October 2020, which IAG accepted.
However, disputes arose over the extent of work required to restore the roof to its original state following initial repairs. The complainant’s building inspector reported that the roof had 71 defects and that it would have to be replaced entirely, which had also been suggested by the insurer’s originally appointed builder.
An IAG-appointed building consultant, referred to as PG, agreed with most of the building inspector’s report’s findings but said that most of the roofing material could have been re-used as it only required to be repositioned.
PG also suggested that other pre-existing issues, including problems with a veranda beam, affected the roof repairs.
The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) sided with the complainant’s report, saying the evidence it provided had been “extensive, detailed, supported by photographs and logical”.
It said the suggestions provided by the inspector’s report would have been more in line with the policy wording that required repairs to be “as close as possible to when new,” and directed the insurer to accept the rectification works.
AFCA also considered complaints from the homeowner about make-safe work set up by the insurer’s tradesmen, specifically images that showed a section of the roof’s gutter angled away, which the claimant said contributed to flooding.
It said it was unsatisfied with IAG’s explanation of why the works were handled this way and required it to conduct works to prevent water from affecting nearby soil.
The building inspector also reported that concrete stumps of the home were found to have significant moisture due to excessive water entering the subfloor and noted that one of the pillars showed signs of concrete cancer.
PG said that the cancer was likely the cause of steel reinforcement being too close to the stump’s surface, which the ruling rejected.
“There is no objective evidence substantiating this stump has that flaw,” AFCA said.
“Neither does PG explain why excessive water into the subfloor could not be the cause of the concrete cancer.”
The complainant sought compensation for a cracked window and a septic tank, which she said had been caused by excessive water in the ground and building movement, but the ruling said there had been no expert evidence to back her claims.
It did notify the insurer that if further signs of building movement were shown, it should appoint a qualified expert to inspect the property.
AFCA rejected arguments from the landlord that mould within the home resulted from the claimed event, saying the mould had been localised to one area of the property, whereas water flooding of the subfloor had been in various locations.
IAG was required to reimburse the complainant for the expert report fees for their value or a maximum amount of $5000.
The ruling also mandated that the insurer compensate for non-financial losses of $3500, citing the prolonged nature and its general mishandling of the claim as causing stress to the homeowner.
“The complainant has made clear she felt ignored as her concerns were dismissed by the original roof contractor,” AFCA said.
Click here for the ruling.