Scale of Rockhampton hail surprised insurers, homeowners waiting as materials shortage worsens
It’s been 16 months since the worst hail storm in a decade swept through central Queensland, but hundreds of homeowners are still waiting for their roofs to be repaired.
Most important points:
- Rockhampton’s severe hailstorm in April 2020 is estimated to have cost up to $840 million in damage
- Master Builders Says Roof Replacement Work Is Still Up To Two Years In The Pipeline
- Materials such as screws, wood and even insulation are scarce
The supercell caused an estimated $840 million in damage after it surprised the locals of Rockhampton on a Sunday afternoon in April 2020.
Material shortages and the volume of insurance claims have exacerbated the delays, with warnings that it could take another two years for all homes to be fully repaired.
Len Palmer said he was scheduled to start trading this week on his asbestos-infested roof, 80 percent of which was damaged. But he’s still waiting.
“Some hailstones were the size of cricket balls and two waves came through. The big stuff came through and drove us with the big hail and the small stuff came through and the whole yard was covered in snow,” said Mr. Palmer.
“It’s crazy, it’s just chaos.”
Roofer Clint Wehmeier, who owns a roofing company, said the hail storm was a “godsend” to his business, with 200 repairs on his books and hundreds more in the city.
However, the strong demand for services brought its own challenges.
His focus was on securing new construction to make the most of the housing boom, but he said it had been a struggle to find materials such as screws and wood.
“Insulation is another. We hear reports of them even talking about importing insulation into Australia because we just can’t get enough of it,” Mr Wehmeier said.
Michelle Traill, Master Builders’ central manager in Queensland, said some companies had reported waiting weeks for roofing materials and faced skyrocketing costs.
“There’s a real problem with the supply of wood, which affects roof trusses. There’s a boom in the United States, where we used to import a lot of wood,” she said.
Companies flock to capitalize
Traders from all over Australia have flocked to the region to cash in on repair work.
Ms Traill said there were still up to two years of roof repair work due to the hail storm that is in the pipeline.
“In the long run, we need outside contractors to support our local contractors as well, otherwise people can wait a long time.”
Mr Wehmeier said he was still getting calls about new insurance claims 18 months after the storm hit.
“Everyone has to be patient. It’s a very difficult, very difficult time.”
Insurance industry surprised
International organization Swiss Re Institute measures insurance risk and in its April report this year said the Rockhampton hailstorm took the industry by storm.
The industry’s final estimated loss was $839 million, and Swiss Re Institute said insurers were hit with higher-than-average claims.
The institute said factors such as solar panels, the older age of homes and new building code requirements for cyclones increased costs.