Double blow to family who lost their dream home in a raging fire after a mistake forced them to pay more than $300,000 out of pocket: ‘We trusted them… it broke me’
- Family left shocked after their dream home burned down
- Their home was underinsured leaving them with more than $300,000 out of pocket
A young family is in turmoil after discovering their dream home wasn’t fully covered by insurance when it burned down.
Renee and Bruno lived with their two children in their newly built home in Gledswood Hills in southwestern Sydney.
They had only lived in the property for five months when it was destroyed by fire on November 17.
The couple pulled their toddlers from their upstairs bedrooms as they screamed for their lives and safely escaped the blaze.
Renee (pictured) and Bruno had only been living in their brand new home for five months when it burned down in an electrical fire. Then they realized they were over $300,000 underinsured, meaning they couldn’t afford the rebuild
Renee told 9News that the couple had contents and contents insurance, but didn’t realize it wasn’t enough to cover the damage.
“We’re covered, we thought… only to discover we were underinsured by $350,000. That broke me,” she said.
The couple’s brand new Sekisui home was purchased as part of a home and land package insured by Westpac and underwritten by Allianz.
They say the appraisal report they reviewed after the fire gave an insurance estimate of $815,000, but was only insured for $500,000 by Westpac.
The couple is now $350,000 short of what it takes to start over and rebuild.
“We trusted the bank… we left the largest and most important part of the house in the hands of the bank, with whom we have banked all our lives,” Renee said.
Renee and Bruno received $190,000 from their insurance payout, with the rest going directly to the mortgage.
“Every phone call with insurance makes me feel like I’m stepping into a boxing ring with Mike Tyson. It only blew after blows,’ said Bruno.
The couple managed to pull their toddlers out of their upstairs bedrooms as they screamed for their lives and safely escaped the blaze.
They say the appraisal report they reviewed after the fire gave an insurance estimate of $815,000, but was only insured for $500,000 by Westpac (Photo: Fire damage to a young couple’s home)
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but it is clear that it was an electrical fire.
A Westpac spokesperson said they will always work closely with clients to support them through difficult times, but clients should know the value of their home and insure accordingly.
“When you take out a mortgage, it’s important that you have the right insurance to cover the cost of replacing your home and belongings if something unexpected happens,” says a spokesman.
‘It is important that customers understand the value of their home and contents when giving instructions for building and/or contents insurance.
“Westpac cannot advise customers on the right level of insurance for their needs.”
Insurance Council of Australia spokesman Mathew Jones said underinsurance is a problem across the country and made worse by rising commodity prices.
The couple is now $350,000 short of what it takes to start over and rebuild
“In most cases, we think underinsurance is accidental,” he said.
“It is especially the case right now where we are seeing very high inflation. Particularly in the building and construction industry.
“So the cost of rebuilding a house is going to differ significantly from a quote you might have gotten to rebuild or repair a house.”
Rising material costs, the Covid pandemic, rising inflation and the war in Ukraine have all led to global supply shortages and forced prices to skyrocket.