In Business & Trade by Clyde Mooney

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A pub in south-west Sydney remains closed after seven months, as its insurance refuses to pay on a claim for damage caused by floods.

On 5 June last year, the suburb of Picton, on the edge of the Blue Mountains National Park, experienced wild weather that saw the usually subdued Stonequarry Creek rise several metres and break its banks.

The George IV being swamped by floodwaters. Image: Facebook

Next door to the creek, the historic George IV Inn, licensed since 1839, had “the better part of Stonequarry Creek run through its front door” and subsequently closed for the first time in its history.

Many businesses in Picton were affected by the stormwaters, and in inevitable deluge of insurance claims began immediately. The operators of The George state that its provider, Assetinsure, initially accepted a claim for damage “caused by stormwater and overland flow”.

Based on this understanding, the pub set about engaging experts to report on works to the 1835 structure and continued to employ its fulltime staff, only to be denied.

“We recently completed a claim as requested by the insurers at considerable cost,” said the post on social media.

“After receiving the claim the insurer changed its position and denied any liability whatsoever.”

The change in circumstance, after the claim procedure, means the pub is now definitely unable to reopen without the insurance issue resolved (in its favour). The owners suggest this is expected to involve lengthy and expensive legal proceedings.

Its most recent update on Facebook acknowledges offers of support, but is resolute in its case against Assetinsure.

“Our main priority at this point must be the pursuit of our claim against the insurance company for its conduct.”

The high waters pushed through the doors and completely flooded the basement, swamping all the pub’s electricals and equipment, and leaving it without refrigeration. While some ingenuity got beer flowing just days afterwards, it was warm, and small consolation given the large-scale rectification works still needing to be done.

The George owners relay that Assetinsure’s denial of the claim is based on the predictions of computer modelling on how the stormwater runoff would have behaved. The pub in turn has called for witnesses and photographs of the aftermath, although the resulting damage would seem difficult to deny.

PubTIC was unable to make contact with the owners of the George IV prior to publication.

Assetinsure replied to contact, but declined to comment as a matter of policy.

George IV Hotel