Budget insurer Youi has admitted to being unable to deal with customers efficiently and and hiring builders it knew were dodgy, the Hayne royal commission has heard.
An executive at Youi, which markets itself as young and hip, had a long day at the inquiry after being called to answer questions about the case studies of Sacha Murphy from Broken Hill and Glenn Sutton from the Whitsundays, who were both subjected to extensive delays during the claims process.
Counsel assisting the commission, Rowena Orr, QC, took Youi’s chief operating officer of claims handling, Jason Storey, through Youi’s company values, which included ensuring all customers received “awesome service”.
“Now, can I ask you, Mr Storey, do you think that Ms Murphy and Mr Sutton received awesome service from Youi?” Ms Orr asked.
“I definitely do not,” Mr Storey replied.
Mr Sutton had home insurance with Youi when Cyclone Debbie struck on March 28, 2017.
His home has still not been repaired 18 months later and has been further damaged by mould after builders failed to secure the site.
His requests for reimbursement for temporary accommodation have been routinely delayed.
‘Plummeted to zero’
Mr Sutton said he was “disgusted”, he felt that he had been “abandoned”, and his faith in Youi “had plummeted to zero”.
Mr Storey accepted that Youi failed to respond to Mr Sutton’s claim in an efficient, professional and practical way and in a compassionate manner, but did not accept that this characterisation extended to all Youi customers affected by Cyclone Debbie. Youi received 2000 claims following the storm.
Ms Orr took Mr Storey through the “built to code” exclusions, which meant Youi could exclude customers from coverage if their property was not compliant with the latest building code, even though it would be highly impractical for homeowners to make sure their homes were compliant with the latest building code.
Mr Storey agreed that it wasn’t a satisfactory situation.
Youi was also skewered for its handling of Ms Murphy’s claim following a Broken Hill hail storm after it engaged a builder, which it had itself suspended for delays, not paying contractors and not having insurance.
Youi selected the builder after receiving a quote that was $1200 cheaper.
“Do you accept that Youi ought to have allocated another builder to Ms Murphy’s claim after these issues with builder A emerged?” Ms Orr asked.
“Yes, definitely, yes,” Mr Storey replied.
Mr Storey agreed that following the storm “available trades were in short supply”.
He agreed that Youi did not have the resources to enable timely repair of homes in the Broken Hill region following the storm.