I had been with the same insurer - CGU - for House and Contents insurance for many years. I changed to RACQ through doing an on-line insurance comparison when CGU’s premium increased significantly (from $700 per year to $1300+) after the Brisbane Floods in 2011. (And although I live near the Brisbane River, I am in a very high spot and many metres above both the 1974 and 2011 flood levels.) Interestingly, although RACQ quoted a good rate (about $900) at the time, after the first year it started increasing every year until it is now $1300+.
I think I have made only three claims on my house and contents insurance in 45 years and never had any problems with the insurers. However, over the Christmas period 2015/2016 the skylight in my kitchen was damaged by hail (as was the roof of a nearby patio). I didn’t realise the skylight was damaged until water started dripping through the bottom of the skylight during another downpour about a month later. Inspection of the skylight by a roofing contractor (I thought I may have had a broken tile near the skylight) revealed a crack of about 12 cm length in the bottom corner of the skylight. He said it was most definitely caused by a large hailstone (given that there was significant hail damage to the nearby roof) and it would be covered by insurance. There were several large holes in the roof of the patio but I had decided, with an excess of $500, it would be cheaper to replace the damaged sheets myself without making a claim. However, when the skylight damage emerged, I made a claim with RACQ. Then my problems began!
RACQ outsource their assessment and repairs to outside contractors … in my case - Crawfords Assessors and Lynx Contractors. The assessor came and took photos fairly promptly, but their builders took over two weeks to do an inspection and then said the skylight drainage tray was not adequate for heavy rain and it had nothing to do with the crack. (This,despite the skylight never having leaked before.) Meanwhile, further heavy rain occured and the water problem became worse and the pine ceilings around the skylight started taking water. A light fitting below the skylight exploded during one storm event. After this frightening experience, I phoned RACQ, Crawfords, and Lynx contacts - all three - and they sent an electrician out to disconnect two light fittings near the skylight (so I then had no working lights in the kitchen) and someone came the same day and put silicone over the crack in the skylight. More heavy rain proved the silicone was not effective in stopping the leakage … and the pine ceiling was starting to show signs of damage. The kitchen cupboards (also pine) became damaged too. I wrote to RACQ with my concerns. I also pointed out the photos from the original assessment showed no ceiling or cupboard damage … so all significant water damage that occured happened after I had made my original claim. They said I would have to make a new/separate claim for the water damage to the ceiling and cupboards … with a second $500 excess!
My pine ceilings run in a continuous line through the family room, kitchen and dining room. To do the job properly, according to a builder, the whole ceiling should be been replaced. They offered me $1,000 to replace the damaged part of the ceiling only and $800 to replace the skylight - less $1,000 in excess. The cheapest of three quotes to replace the skylight was $2,100. I made no claim for the damaged patio roof, or my kitchen cupboards as the cupboards were quite worn and I had decided to have a new kitchen installed. I refused their offer.
The upshot - seven months later - was I got a new skylight and the damaged boards only replaced, stained and polished in the ceiling, rewiring of the two damaged light fittings. They gave me around $5,000 less $1,000 excess. I was over $2,000 out of pocket. To add insult to injury, I had a new kitchen installed but the builder had to put tarps over and around the skylight to prevent rain from entering because the skylight still hadn’t been replaced.
Had RACQ promptly assessed my original claim, they would only have had to pay for a new skylight … and I would not have endured months of hardship and extra costs. Had they accepted that their tardiness caused the subsequent significant damage to the ceiling I would not have been required to pay an extra $500 excess for a second claim.
I am a very unhappy RACQ customer. But are any insurers any better?