LEGAL AID HELPS BUSHFIRE VICTIMS WITH INSURANCE CLAIMS
3 NOVEMBER 2013
Insurance companies have reduced red tape after representations by Legal Aid lawyers to help bushfire victims to resolve their claims quickly, Attorney General Greg Smith SC has said.
"People who have lost their homes and possessions in recent bushfires are already facing a stressful situation without having to do battle with their insurers," he said.
"In one case an 11 year-old boy was asked by an insurance company to itemise the contents of his bedroom. In other cases, insurance companies asked for photos or receipts to support claims for items lost in the fires."
"This sort of approach to bushfire victims is cruel and unnecessarily adds to the trauma they have suffered."
"Solicitors from Legal Aid NSW helped reach agreement with insurers so that victims will not be required to itemise their losses."
So far, Legal Aid lawyers have provided free legal advice to more than 230 bushfire victims at the Disaster Recovery Centre at Springwood and over the phone. Fact sheets were handed out to fire victims in other affected areas.
"They also managed to resolve a dispute with one insurance company which had falsely informed customers that any payment for temporary accommodation would be deducted from the final insurance payout. This would have potentially prevented families from being able to afford to rebuild their homes."
"When the insurer realised their mistake they retrained staff and contacted customers to advise them they were entitled to up to 52 weeks of payment for temporary accommodation, offering an immediate lump sum payment of the entitlement."
"I thank the insurance companies concerned for working with Legal Aid solicitors to resolve the issues, helping fire victims and speeding up their claims."
In another initiative, the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages is currently processing applications to replace more than 200 birth certificates and 55 marriage certificates destroyed in the fire free of charge.
For more information, visit http://www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au/get-legal-help/legal-help-for-victims-of-natural-disasters