Insurer rushes to Edgecombe family’s aid

Bad news stories and controversial headlines always get lots of legs, particularly stories about insurance claims, but here’s a good news story of how AMP Insurance went above and beyond for a family, with lots of young children, after the recent floods in Edgecombe, in the Bay of Plenty. 

The large family lives just outside of town, about a kilometre from where the Rangitāiki River breached a stopbank. The family had no time to grab anything when they fled – ‘Mum’ (let’s call her that) had her phone, but no charger. Other than that, they literally had just the clothes on their backs when the floods came.

I actually lodged the claim on behalf of this client because she was trying to preserve the battery life of her phone. The family did manage to book into two rooms of a hotel, which cost about $500 per night – a cost that was covered by the accommodation clause in their insurance to a limit of $30,000 or 12 months.

The flooding however was extensive and it soon became apparent that they would not be able to move back into their house for some time. Flood waters had risen more than 30 centimetres up the walls inside their home, bearing in mind that when you factor in the pilings, we’re talking about levels well over a metre or so.

The family, not wanting to be cooped up in a hotel for who knows how long, asked AMP Insurance if they could buy a caravan, and have the accommodation allowance cover the first three or four instalments until they could get back on their feet. The insurer said ‘no’.

Instead, they advanced the family the entire $30,000 accommodation allowance upfront so that they could buy the caravan cash, a measure that would provide more certainty and security for the family in owning the caravan outright.

When I visited the house, the bottom half of all the inside walls had been cut away by the builders and many of the household items – not all – were write-offs. The assessor reached the same conclusion and arranged for an immediate payment of the entire household cover of more than $80,000.

The family car was also under water, and the family was quickly paid out for this too.

Of course, customers always have an expectation – justifiably so – that the insurer will come to the party quickly and fairly, but there are processes that have to be followed to ensure legal and responsible management of money.

What was exceptional here, was how the insurer put the customer first and went out of their way to act speedily in finding a solution that was right for the client, rather than being too bound by policy and bureaucracy – a family was in need, and they stepped up.

It was a case of putting the customer’s interests ahead of the company.

Kudos to the family as well, because they had the right cover in place to ensure against just an unexpected event. As a result, it was a lot less traumatic than it could have been.

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