Family’s hell after six-month roof claim battle
A drawn out legal battle with an insurance giant has forced a Brisbane family to live under a tarpaulin for six months after the roof of their home was destroyed by a freak mini cyclone.
Ken and Elizabeth Harris have lived with a massive hole in their roof since December while they battled insurance giant NRMA.
The insurance company said the work was delayed because an assessment of the property found the roof had pre-existing termite damage.
The December 21 storm lifted the roof of the two-storey brick home leaving a gaping hole.
The damage was so extensive, Mr Harris had to close off an upstairs bedroom after water leaked through the ceiling making the room unsafe.
Builder Dean Morante said he expected it would cost at least $60,000 to fix.
"The roof blew off because screws, instead of nails, were used to fix in the roofing battens that hold the roof down," he said.
"It's easily fixed and just a matter of getting up there so this man has a proper roof to live under instead of relying on a tarpaulin."
Mr Harris said he had contacted NRMA at least seven times asking for his insurance claim to be honoured.
The family's battle to get the roof repaired started the day after the storm, when Mr Harris lodged his claim and made the first of many calls to the insurance company.
Hours after the storm, the State Emergency Service put a tarpaulin over one section of the roof.
On December 31 the NRMA sent an assessment team which used a drone to survey the roof.
Two weeks later, NRMA informed Mr Harris a repair team would do a follow-up inspection.
But after more calls throughout February, the roof had still not been fixed and on March 1, Mr Harris bought a new larger and heavier tarpaulin to put over one side of the roof.
"By May, we were getting quite distressed because it was getting close to winter and nothing had been done," Mr Harris said.
"It looked like the insurance company was not going to pay for the repairs."
NRMA engineer Peter Wright inspected the roof in May.
However, it was not until this month when Albert & Logan News contacted NRMA on behalf of the couple, that the nightmare came to an end.
An NRMA spokesman contacted the paper and said the insurance company would pay for the entire repair works, which would start by July.
He said the work had been delayed because an assessment of the property found the roof had pre-existing termite damage.
"There was also evidence that the previous repairs by his own builder were not to standard and contributed to the damage to the roof and property," the spokesman said.
"However, we've apologised to Mr Harris for the delays he's experienced to this point and we will be completing the required repairs to his property.
"We have also offered temporary accommodation until the repairs are finished, however Mr Harris' preference is to stay in his home.
"Our builder is contacting Mr Harris to discuss the repairs which will begin in the coming weeks, and will be completed as soon as possible.
"Generally speaking, damage caused by termites is not covered under a home policy. "However, homes that have been damaged can be insured, as long as the repairs have been carried out to building standard, and satisfy our underwriting guidelines."