People living in the central western NSW town of TBEN are reportedly being abandoned by insurers during a major flood disaster.
TBEN mayor Phyllis Miller said some people with existing policies had received letters saying they would not renew, while others said insurers refused to cover them at first.
Ms. Miller accused insurers of applying blanket bans to citywide flood policies regardless of their actual flood risk.
“Of course the whole city will not be flooded. We have hills in TBEN,” Miller told TBEN TV on Tuesday.
“There is a moratorium on providing flood insurance to anyone [in the Forbes postcode].
“If you live on a hill or live next to the river, you all get treated the same, which is horrible.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet were put to the test on the issue during a tour of flood-stricken Eugowra, 30 kilometers east of TBEN, on Tuesday during a tour of flood-hit Eugowra.
Mr Albanese described it as a challenge the government was trying to take on with insurance companies.
“It’s one of the things we’ve heard about today that so many people haven’t been able to get insurance because of the high premiums,” he said.
“It’s something that the government is trying to deal with over a period of time.”
Mr Perrottet said he had spoken to the Insurance Council of Australia and both levels of government were working to ensure support was provided, including consideration of specialist policies.
“Insurance companies need to put people before profit,” he said.
An ICA spokesperson said that in some cases during disasters such as floods, insurers imposed a temporary embargo on issuing new policies until the threat of the disaster had passed.
This is to prevent an influx of new claims in the event of disasters, but it can also give the impression that insurers are not covering people in need.
The ICA has urged governments to take steps including investing in mitigation strategies such as levees and flood-resistant homes, adjusting planning not to build homes on floodplains, and including a resilience measure in the National Construction Code.
“We know that the cost of flood cover can be prohibitively expensive for some who face a high risk of flooding, leading them to forego flood cover altogether,” the spokesman said.
“Given the worsening impact of extreme weather, governments and the community should also consider whether property buybacks are an appropriate policy response.”
Ms Miller said she was concerned the insurance issues would deter people from moving to the city.
“We’re not always under water,” she said.
“Admittedly, we’ve had four or five floods in the last six weeks, but we can go 20 years without flooding.
“I’m disappointed that this could have a negative impact on people who come and live in TBEN.”