Hope for flood victims
A GUNNEDAH resident has provided a glimmer of hope to homeowners in flood devastated areas after winning a major legal battle against an insurance company that refused to pay for storm damage to his home.
Pat Hennessy has been awarded substantial damages after taking his insurance company, Elders Limited, to court for refusing to pay for damage caused to his home in November, 2008, when rainwater swept through his property during the most intensive storm to ever hit the town.
The decision could have implications for thousands of homeowners, including some on the Coffs Coast still battling for insurance payouts.
Mr Hennessy put a claim in to his insurer when the eastern side of his house dropped after water inundated the foundations.
Elders rejected the claim saying the damage was caused by ground water not storm water and that the house dropped because of gradual subsidence of the soil rather than the storm event.
Mr Peter Long, Slater & Gordon Practice Group Leader in Gunnedah who represented Mr Hennessy, said the win was a victory “for the man in the street”.
“Insurance companies are happy to collect premiums but when it comes time to paying out they often duck for cover,” Mr Long said
“It is a tragedy that wealthy insurance companies with deep pockets make people like Mr Hennessy go through protracted legal proceedings simply to get the cover they paid for.”
Mr Hennessy commenced legal proceedings against Elders in the Local Court at Gunnedah in June 2009 and his claim was heard on February 4, 2010.
Magistrate Connell delivered judgement last week in favour of Mr Hennessy and found that the damage to Mr Hennessy’s house was covered by his policy with Elders Ltd.