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NSW weather: Sydney's beachfront homes may not be insured for king tide, Insurance Council says

Tuesday June 7, 2016 - 13:16 EST
ABC licensed image
Beachside homes damaged by a storm at Collaroy in Sydney's north. - ABC licensed

Many of the beachfront homes in Sydney's north — some of them on the verge of collapse after the severe storms — are not likely to be insured against damage from the sea, the Insurance Council of Australia says.

The insurance council declared the severe storms that hit Australia's east coast a catastrophe and set up a taskforce to deal with any issues that arise.

The storms and floodwaters have left four people dead and three people missing across NSW, ACT, and Tasmania, including a man .

So far, more than 11,000 people although that figure is likely to rise.

The insurance council's Campbell Fuller said many northern beaches residents whose waterfront homes were severely damaged might not have insurance cover because of where the properties are located.

"That will depend very much on the insurance policy that they've purchased," he said.

"Many insurers don't cover actions of the sea. It's a very common exclusion. Actions of the sea is generally not covered by most insurance policies."

He said beachfront residents who do not have policies that cover them for the cost of repairs might need to apply for help under state and federal government disaster relief provisions.

'Buyers beware', NSW Emergency Services Minister says

New South Wales Emergency Services Minister David Elliot said when it came to the issue of insurance cover, buyers should beware.

"I don't know what the government can do to encourage people not to buy coastal homes," he said.

"This is something that when you buy a home you need to consider — all the opportunities and all the possibilities that may affect anything that you purchase.

"This is why we tell people, when you buy property, when you take out an insurance policy, make sure you know what your insurance policy covers. It's not the role of the government."

The State Government released a package of coastal reforms last month including a new definition of coastal zones to identify areas where development was appropriate and where it should be avoided.

Engineers to inspect homes on verge of collapse

Structural engineers have started to inspect homes on the beachfront at Collaroy .

Some of the homes are on the verge of collapsing into the sea but police said the king tide had not caused more damage to the homes.

State Emergency Service controller Wayne Lyne said sandbags were put in place to prevent further damage while engineers carried out inspections.

"We're doing house by house. So that's going to take as long as it takes," he said.

"There is no rule. Each house is different ... [and] has got different issues."

The tide peak was not as big as an earlier one, but more erosion has taken place due to wild surf.

'I've got no backyard. How is this going to be fixed?'

One of the home owners, Tony Cargorski, has surveyed the damage to his Pittwater Road home.

"The main part of the house is still sound thank God. We're really hopeful that we can save the main part of the house," he said.

"We've lost another two metres off the back of the house last night and we had the verandah ... we had a right post on it.

"That's fallen into the ocean. The left part of our sunroom on the lower level ... that's gone," he said.

But he said there were tough times ahead.

"I've got no backyard. My neighbours haven't got a backyard. How is this going to be fixed?'

"I want to come back and with all my heart, with all my soul, see that house intact. And we can resume our lives."

Local council to consider building a sea wall

The council covering Collaroy Beach said it would meet the beachfront property owners.

Northern Beaches Council general manager Mark Ferguson said coastal management experts were monitoring the area until the surf conditions subsided.

"Some of the properties appear to be breaking up. That's why engineers will assess what the likely position is and what strategy can be put in place immediately," he said.

The council was considering a third sea wall for the area which would be partly funded by homeowners, Mr Ferguson said.

"We'll be discussing with the [council's] administrator today and looking for a way forward to attempt to resolve the issue.

"At the same time [it will] require the cooperation and support of the property owners and the council," he said.

It is still unclear when residents will be able to return to their homes. A high tide expected later may further destabilise properties.

Three lives have been lost in floodwaters - two in New South Wales and one in the ACT.

in south-western Sydney on Monday, while a 65-year-old man's body was found in a car in floodwaters at Bowral in the Southern Highlands.

In Canberra, the body of another man was recovered from a swollen river after he became trapped in his car and was swept away by floodwaters on the weekend.


© ABC 2016

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