Warilla pensioner's insurance shock: from $800 to $7000

Severina Beccari has lived in her humble Warilla home for 46 years.

In that time she has never had to sweep muddy debris from her living room, or stack sandbags across doorways and windows to protect against encroaching floodwaters.

When much of the suburb was under water last March after a devastating 250mm deluge struck the region, the Beccaris' Woodford Avenue abode was high and dry.

Read the NRMA's statement

So when Mrs Beccari, 83, and her 85-year-old husband, Alessio, last week opened their annual home insurance renewal notice from the NRMA, they were sure the figure stated was wrong.

Instead of the typical $800 sum, the annual premium quoted was for $7206.65, or payments of $604.97 a month.

"I was really thinking it was a mistake, I couldn't believe it," she said.

She and son Paul went into an NRMA office on Monday looking for answers but were told the notice was correct.

Insurance underwriters had identified the home as being in a zone at risk from stormwater run-off, Paul Beccari said.

"They've been NRMA customers for 40 years, they've never been flooded, there's no water ever come into the house, they've never made a claim on a flood or stormwater damage at all," he said.

A concrete canal runs behind the home but it had never overflowed, he said.

Mrs Beccari said there was no way the couple could pay the hefty premium and it was time to look elsewhere for home insurance.

"We can't afford it, it's more than a quarter of our pension," Mrs Beccari said.

"I was disappointed because for many years we've been with NRMA."

An NRMA spokesman said the company assessed every customer's personal circumstances to ensure premiums reflected their risk.

Assessments were based on council data, state and federal mapping, terrain and watercourse mapping and insurance information, the spokesman said.

"The Beccaris have received an increase in their premium due to our data analysis at the time of their renewal showing that their property has a higher risk of being damaged by stormwater run-off," he said.

The spokesman said customers could seek a review of their property's assessment by calling 132 132.

A spokesman for Shellharbour City Council said no changes had been made to flood study data in the area since 2006.

Do you live in this area? Have your home insurance premiums increased dramatically? Contact us at scoop@illawarramercury.com.au

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