Couple forced to take out $100k loan

Scott RC

FED up with waiting for their insurer to settle on their Cyclone Debbie insurance claim, Proserpine district couple Ken and Kate White are taking out a $100,000 loan to start the repairs themselves.

Their house, which was inundated with storm water when their windows blew out and their roof was damaged in March last year, has been unliveable ever since.

Mr White, 37, and Mrs White, 33, moved into their dream home five years ago. They were living there with their children when Debbie tore their world apart. They are now at the beginning of another cyclone season and are worried their house, exposed to the elements as it is, will be further damaged if another cyclone crosses the Whitsunday coast this year.

The grouting in the tiles was eroded by the rainwater and the tiles themselves loosened and buckled when the house moved in Debbie's 240km/h winds. Mould has taken hold in the timbers.

Ms White said her insurer had wanted to sheet over the mould, but she and her husband had refused to let this happen.

A microbiologist acting on her and husband's behalf had inspected the mould last week, she said, and would be making a report.

She said an assessor who was advising them had estimated the cost of repairs at $115,000 plus the cost of a new roof. Mrs White did not reveal the figure her insurer had placed on repairs, but said it was a lot lower.

She said their insurer had told them that the damage to the tiles and the mould were "maintenance" issues.

"We are going to have to borrow money to do the repairs. Our insurer could have replaced the windows and treated the mould and we would not be in this situation. They have been paying our accommodation since the cyclone, but this will cease at the end of the month. We are going to have to start paying rent," she said.

"It has cost them all that money to provide us with alternative accommodation. Why couldn't they have just done the repairs and saved that money?"

Mr and Mrs White have had to bite the bullet and have accepted their insurer's assessment and payout figure. Mrs White said it was all they could do. She and her husband estimated they would need another $100,000 to get most of the work done.

Even though they had accepted the offer in order to make a start to repairs, she said they were not finished with their insurer and had made a complaint to the insurance ombudsman and were awaiting the outcome.

"What hurts as well is that we have paid $20,000 in insurance premiums and now we having to spend $100,000 of our own money to get the repairs done," she said.

"It's heartbreaking to see something you've worked so hard for end up like this."

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