A SOUTH Yunderup mother of two has issued a warning to residents after finding out her insurance cover did not include asbestos-related damage.
Miki and Graham Glisenti’s rental property in Coolup was smashed after a large tree fell on it three weeks ago.
The couple ran from their home with their two sons – three-year-old Liam and one-year-old Max – and the clothes on their backs.
The family was forced to stay with friends and use the last of its money to buy food, medicines, nappies, bottles, underwear and later bond, and rent for a new house.
“One day while I was at work my husband received a call from our insurance saying the house was not asbestos and it was safe to get our things,” Miki said.
“He took the kids back to get a fridge and microwave for the new house as well as a couple of other small items.
“Thank God the boy’s clothes and toys were too buried in rubble for him to quickly retrieve that day.”
However, Miki said the situation turned serious when a second asbestos assessor confirmed the house was in fact made from asbestos.
“I found out the original person who assessed it was not qualified to assess asbestos,” Miki said.
“He made a guess. When someone qualified did eventually assess it, we were told it definitely is asbestos and all our belongings were not safe to keep.
“Too bad my family had been back already before we got the correct information.”
Miki told the Coastal Times that when she purchased her contents insurance from Wesfarmers, she specifically asked if it would cover asbestos, as it was an old house.
She was shocked when she made a claim on her $43,000 policy for asbestos damage that has Wesfarmers said they would not cover .
“The insurance won’t pay out on things that are asbestos damaged,” Miki said.
“It’s all over our stuff in the house.”
Miki estimates that the family have lost $65,000 worth of property.
“We didn’t even have a pot to cook in,” she said.
“But because people have helped it’s doable.
“I don’t still don’t know whether to smile or cry.”
Miki has a warning for other people regarding insurance.
“If you live in a home that could be made of asbestos, be aware that it could be in the fine print that the insurance company will not pay it,” Miki said.
“We feel like we’re left so high and dry by them.
“We’ve borrowed mattresses, blankets and clothes, my three-year-old is crying for his blankies, the baby is not sleeping without a sleep sack, me having to leave all pride behind as I ask for donations of food, clothes, Santa sacks and if people could help me fill them.
“It’s heart breaking and embarrassing to be in this position.”
Miki’s husband works away, so for the past few weeks she has been shouldering most of the burden on her own.
She said she has called both the insurance ombudsman and the Asbestos Disease Society of Australia while caring for her two young boys and setting up a new home with borrowed goods.
Miki said contacting the media was a final attempt to get some resolution.
“What I do think they (Wesfarmers) should seriously consider, if not anything I’ve stated previously, is the fact that I think almost all of their customers would look at this and think it’s unfair,” she said.
“The wider community would not find this an acceptable way to be treated.
“A tree squashed our home. It was a freak accident. This is why I and millions of others have insurance, so they aren’t left in the position my family and I are in right now.”
In a small gesture of goodwill, she found out today that Wesfarmers would grant the family a $10,000 emergency payment and investigate their claim.
Wesfarmers has refused to respond to requests for comment.