Bundamba flood hero Quang Huynh (left) at the flood inquiry.
Bundamba flood hero Quang Huynh (left) at the flood inquiry. Claudia Baxter

Flood hero faces insurance struggle

QUANG Huynh was the man who famously saved the horses of Bundamba from drowning in the January floods and received a humane award from the RSPCA - one of only eight people ever to do so.

But who will save him?

The flood inquiry yesterday heard how "the insurance companies have affected a more devastating effect on our community than the natural disaster itself".

Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale made the remark to the House of Representatives' Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs when it visited Ipswich yesterday to investigate the performance of insurance companies during the floods.

His comment was reinforced by much of the evidence presented to the committee. The story of Bundamba's Mr Huynh was one of those.

Mr Huynh gave evidence of how he was contacted by Comminsure with a cold call by a Vietnamese speaker encouraging him to change insurers. He changed but only after being assured that he was "covered for everything".

His policy of slightly more than $500 a year went up to $800 a year after the North Queensland floods. Mr Huynh accepted that increase, presuming he would be looked after in the case of a similar disaster.

But his policy was not honoured when he lost everything in the January floods.

He was offered an ex-gratia payment but it is only half of what he was insured for and will not cover a rebuild. If Mr Huynh touches the money he forfeits the right to pursue the full amount.

"The insurance company is not doing the right thing ... and I expect them to do the right thing by me," he said.

Bundamba Flood Survivors Support Group's Vicki Ash said Mr Huynh's case "highlights the issues that someone from a different culture and language can face".

The insurance company recorded its initial sales call but won't provide the transcripts.

"We have thrown out the onus of proof to the insurer," she said.

"If the proof is there then he should get all of his money eventually. We've had to put Quang and his three kids into accommodation out at the Salvation Army's Riverview Farm but that accommodation will run out eventually."

Lifeline Community Care's Deborah Olsen gave evidence that nine months after the floods there was "a significant increase in emotional distress" with flood victims still waiting for insurance companies to get back to them.

Lifeline has been in the Ipswich and Somerset region and has found some people to be suicidal due to the lack of a timely response by insurance companies.

Relationships are having strain placed on them with "parents worried about kids being affected ... and then arguing".

The farming community has been hit hard because the floods have damaged not just their homes but also their livelihoods.

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