The Eugowra residents broken by the fight for insurance

“Imagine how much money they’ve got out of this town in the past 20-30 years.”

Dukes said anxiety about insurance was another stress for a town that had lost so much over the past fortnight, and would on Monday bury a much-loved member of its community, local doctor’s receptionist Diane Smith.

The federal member for Calare, the Nationals’ Andrew Gee, said there was deep confusion and anxiety about claims. “While these are contracts, I think insurers need to be assessing these claims in a generous and kindhearted away,” he said.

“Communities around Australia would expect nothing less. There’s a lot of people who’ve lost absolutely everything and it’s a lot to deal with. The whole uncertainty regarding insurance is adding a whole new layer of angst and frustration.

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“Many are feeling quite devastated that having been loyal customers and paid these premiums over a long period of time, the insurance companies may not be sticking by them.” Legal aid has set up an information service in the flood-hit area, and can advise on insurance contracts.

In a statement, an NRMA Insurance spokesperson said a claims team was on the ground in Eugowra to help with emergency payments for food and temporary accommodation, while assessors were in the process of looking at damage to homes.

“Our home and contents policies provide cover for storm damage where water has entered through the roof or windows, even if the customer has opted out of flood, rainwater run-off and storm surge cover,” the statement said.

A spokeswoman from the Insurance Council of Australia said there had been more than 3000 claims lodged due to the most recent flooding in the Central West.

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The government introduced a standard definition of flood in 2012, which involves water escaping from the normal confines of a body such as a river, lake or creek. There is no standard definition for storm. “A simple way to think about it is that storm water comes down or through a property, while flood water rises,” the spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman said insurance customers should discuss their concerns with their insurer. “The Insurance Council of Australia encourages policyholders who are unhappy with any part of their insurance claim experience to contact their insurers’ Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR) team,” the spokeswoman said.

If they are unhappy with the outcome, they can lodge a dispute with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).

IAG, which underwrites NRMA Insurance, was contacted for comment.

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