Blaze costs hotelier million dollars

HUGE LOSS: Matong publicans Chris and Keith Neumann have been forced to sell the Farmers Home Hotel after a clerical oversight cost them a $1.2 million insurance claim.
HUGE LOSS: Matong publicans Chris and Keith Neumann have been forced to sell the Farmers Home Hotel after a clerical oversight cost them a $1.2 million insurance claim.

“I’M OUT a million dollars.”Months after almost losing their hotel to fire, Matong publicans Keith and Chris Neumann have been forced to put the Farmers Home Hotel on the market after a clerical oversight ruined their insurance claim.According to Mr Neumann, a tick in the wrong box by his insurance broker has cost him $1.2 million in insurance.As a result he is selling the fire-damaged hotel for $50,000, a price that includes land, fixtures and fittings, reticulation systems and liquor licence.“It’s for sale because I don’t have the money to rebuild it,” Mr Neumann said.“When we found out it knocked the wind right out of me … the missus and I knew we were stuffed.“The community is pretty shattered … some of the blokes have been drinking there for 60 years.“It’s gut wrenching but you’ve got to pick yourself up and keep going.”The Neumanns have called Matong home since they took over the pub five years ago after moving from Canberra.After renovating the building and making the town’s only drinking hole a thriving business, the Neumanns’ tree change dream went up in smoke on January 11 when an electrical fault caused a fire which destroyed the second floor.Mr Neumann estimates investors could get the pub up and running for about $150,000.“You get everything for the $50,000 on the proviso that they rebuild it,” he said.“We could auction it and get more but that could go on forever and the locals will be without a pub.“So we decided to put it on for a nominal amount and get the pub running again as soon as possible.“Just because the insurance did us over doesn’t mean I should do the same to someone else, I like to put my faith in people.”The Neumanns, who plan on moving to Moama after the sale goes through, hoped the Farmers Home would be purchased by someone who lived locally.That way it would remain a community pub, run by the community.“It would be perfect if it worked out that way,” he said.