Insurance company stalls fire payout until case resolved

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

IN LIMBO: West Nowra couple Carol and Rex Cluff are battling with insurance company Allianz after their house was destroyed by fire seven months ago.

IF being diagnosed with a terminal cancer and then becoming a quadriplegic after a motor vehicle accident wasn’t bad enough, now West Nowra man Rex Cluff and his wife Carol are battling an insurance company for a payout after their home was destroyed by fire.

When the couple’s Cavanagh Lane home was gutted by fire last August, although devastated, they thought their insurance company Allianz would come to their aid.

Seven months on they are still waiting for the claim to besettled.

The couple’s son David, who had been living in the home at the time, was charged with intentionally damaging property by fire or explosion and recklessly damaging property by fire or explosion.

The couple were in Sydney at the time of the fire. Mr Cluff, who has terminal prostate cancer, was recovering after breaking his neck in an accident that left him a quadriplegic.

The last 12 months have been extremely hard for the family, with Mrs Cluff also diagnosed with a heart condition.

“We are just left in limbo,” Mrs Cluff said.

“We thought we were covered but Allianz is using a clause that claims if the fire was deliberately lit, which we don’t believe it was, they won’t pay up.

“It’s a very grey area.

“They say we have to wait for the outcome of the court case. We have already waited seven months. Who knows how long it could take?

“Morally, I would think they would pay.

“But it appears they are relying on clauses to wriggle out of it. They just quote clause such and such and that’s it.”

Since December Mr Cluff has been bedridden, cut off from the rest of the world except for the telephone and the television.

“I’m worn out, I just don’t have the energy anymore to battle this,” Mrs Cluff said when asked why she was going public with her story.

“Rex needs something to look forward to, especially of late. He hasn’t been in a good way.

“He’s had enough, he’s fed up and we are just left hanging.

“We can’t plan anything or do anything as we don’t know when or if this is going to end.

“I’m really starting to lose hope.

“We just want to get Rex back into his own home.”

The couple are living in a rented property through Southern Cross Community Housing at West Nowra.

“We appreciate it but it’s not home,” Mrs Cluff said.

“I don’t care anymore, I just want my house or a house back.”

The couple had been insured with Allianz for four or five years.

“I always shopped around to get the best deal,” he said.

“You would think the company would do the right thing.”

The home, built by Mr Cluff, was a lifetime of work.

“It’s all gone. All our memories, you can’t get them back,” Mrs Cluff said.

She said she was constantly asked how work on their house is going.

“People don’t realise we haven’t been able to do anything,” she said.

“They assume Allianz has paid out and we have been able to get on with our life and rebuild.

“People saw we were insured for $900,000 and assume everything is OK but it’s not.”

Allianz was contacted for a comment but had not responded by press time.

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