Achmea Farm Insurance against floods

After receiving more than 1458mm of rain over ten days in early 2019, Burdekin farmer Rob Ahern faced a significant damage bill, including the rebuild of his house, but says farm insurer Achmea ‘has been absolutely wonderful’.

The monsoon trough which hit North and far North Queensland between 25 January – 14 February 2019, impacted more than 100 million hectares, or 56 per cent of the state’s total land 1.

The total damage bill is estimated to be more than $5.68 billion, with livestock losses estimated at 500,000 head of cattle and 30,000 sheep2.

Mr Ahern switched to Achmea for his farm insurance in 2014 and was one of more than 600 farmers affected by the catastrophe.

Mr Ahern has been a farmer for more than 55 years and these days runs 400 head of cattle on his family’s Ayr property, which has been in his family for five generations.

Having lived on the bank of the Burdekin River his whole life, cyclones and floods are an expected part of life for Mr Ahern, but said the floods were “stressful times”.

“We weren’t expecting our house to be flooded, but then the water just bubbled up from under the glass doors and the rest is history,” Mr Ahern said.

The day the house started flooding Mr Ahern rang his Achmea Risk Specialist, David Morris, who he regularly deals with, along with Achmea Regional Manager Phil Kite.

“Achmea’s Claims Team rang me back the next day and gave me a claim number to start processing the claim,” he said.

“Rabobank also called to see whether we needed emergency funding.”

Most importantly, he said, they survived.

Mr Ahern said the damage to their house was significant, with the bottom story flooring all ruined and later in the year, the house began to move due to the clay underneath.

“Anything that could possibly shift in the house, shifted,” he said.

“The damage was much greater than we previously anticipated. Certainly, the builder and insurance assessors never expected it either.”

Despite the damage being worse than initially thought, Mr Ahern said his experience with Achmea has been “direct and hassle-free”, and he appreciated the support he received.

“Achmea has been absolutely wonderful about it all,” Mr Ahern said.

“It was an evolving claim. When everything also got damaged upstairs, we got an engineer to do up a report and they then sent it to Achmea who concurred with the report.”

“We lost the car as well which was also covered.”

“I have had no problems with Achmea, they have been really good throughout the affair with the builder and the assessor. We have had no complaints, only praise for Achmea, that’s all.”

Established more than 200 years ago by a group of Dutch farmers to provide compensation in the event of natural disasters, Achmea is in a stage of rapid growth in Australia.

When Mr Ahern switched to Achmea for his insurance in 2014, they were one of the first farmers to join since Achmea expanded to Australia.

“I always had good experience with Rabobank, and then when Achmea got going [in Australia] I moved straight there and there have been no faults whatsoever,” Mr Ahern said.

Underinsurance is common in agricultural communities, but with the bushfire crisis and cyclone season underway, Mr Ahern urged other farmers to be realistic when it comes to their insurance and not compromise.

“Some people are doing it really tough, but it is important to keep your insurance updated,” he said.

“Farming is an evolving process, everything changes, you change what you are doing, and your insurance must change too.”

“Underinsurance affects not only employment, it affects everything in rural communities,” he said.

“A lot of people now with the bushfires, don’t have houses to return to,” he said.

“Some people also didn’t have insurance during the Townsville floods, and it is scary if you don’t protect yourself.”

Underinsurance affects not only employment, he said, but it affects entire communities.

“Being on the land is not easy and people often say it’s too tough, but I have enjoyed farming all my life. If you enjoy it, it makes the day go faster.”

  1. Deloitte, Access Economics, The social and economic cost of the North and Far North Queensland Monsoon Trough (2019)
  2. Deloitte, Access Economics, The social and economic cost of the North and Far North Queensland Monsoon Trough (2019)