South-east Queensland remains in crisis with thousands of homes and businesses inundated by rising floodwaters. As of 13/1 the death toll from three weeks of heavy rain and flooding has reached 22, with more than 40 people still missing.
When the floods eventually ease and the people of Queensland who have been impacted attempt to resurrect their lives, their insurance companies are going to loom large. Already some of these insurance company brands are declaring their hand as to how they are likely to respond, and unfortunately for many Queenslanders they won’t be turning up at the door step with any form of ex-gratia payments. It has been reported that more than half of all insured homes in Queensland are not covered for flood damage. In fact most home and contents insurance policies in Australia exclude cover for flood damage.
The upside is that the market leader in Queensland, Suncorp, with around 40% market share, is the only insurance company that automatically protects against flooding. If consumers operated with perfect knowledge then you would expect that anyone in a flood prone area would therefore be insured with Suncorp. But unfortunately that is not how the market operates, and one suspects that of the 2 million people reading this blog most themselves do not know what their insurance covers. Do you?
But lets forget our own insurance for moment and put our brand hats on. Suncorp as a business is about to take a huge hit in terms of claims. What it should therefore be doing is creatively and intelligently leveraging the fact that it does cover flood insurance, that it understands the nature of life in Queensland, that it’s here standing shoulder to shoulder with Queenslanders. From a profit perspective it may be battered, but from a brand perspective it should ensure that it shines.
While its competitor Allianz is out there drawing a line in the sand saying it will not be diverging from their policy wording and that it does not have a history of making voluntary payments following natural catastrophes – in other words lowering customer expectation, we encourage Suncorp to go on the front foot from a brand perspective. Broadcast loud and clear that it has flood cover because it genuinely cares about the lives of Queenslanders. Suncorp has an opportunity to build a huge emotional connection with Queenslanders and the wider Australian market – seize it. But with any words, it is important that the deeds match. Putting in place a caring, customer friendly and expedient claims process is paramount. Suncorp lets turn this adversity into the most magnificent positive brand gesture imaginable. Start with that mindset and you will have half a chance.