Insurers have paid $1 billion in Cyclone Debbie insurance claims, with more than 85 per cent of claims now closed. Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) data shows insurance losses have reached $1.565 billion from 72,767 claims.
ICA CEO Rob Whelan said insurers had paid about $355 million in repairs and services in the past six weeks alone, and the industry’s response to Cyclone Debbie claimants was the fastest on record.“Insurers are injecting $11.8 million each working day into affected communities stretching from the Whitsundays through to southern New South Wales,” he said.
Cyclone Debbie now ranks as the second-most expensive cyclone in Australian history after Cyclone Tracy that hit Northern Territory in 1974 causing $4.1 in losses. Debbie is the most expensive cyclone to hit Queensland and since mid-September a further 3919 household and business claims have been lodged, adding $89 million to the total losses. Despite the fresh lodgements more than 85 per cent of insurance claims have been closed.
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Whelan said, “The closure rate for Cyclone Debbie is running at least 15 per cent ahead of any previous natural disaster. Some customers in the worst-hit areas, including the Whitsundays, may have more complex scopes of works to define and complete. Insurers have employed teams of local tradespeople as well as large building firms to accelerate the pace of these building works once agreements are reached with customers.”
Whelan said the ICA and insurance companies had organised or participated in more than 250 one-on-one meetings, briefings and forums to hear customer concerns and address issues. He said insurers were seeking to resolve a small number of contentious claims.
He added that Queensland was facing an above-normal cyclone season this summer, and urged households and businesses to prepare their properties. He also said median premiums for home and contents in North Queensland had remained relatively stable over the past couple of years and that insurers were competing in the region on price and policy features. He noted that a recent government report had shown insurers were paying $1.40 for every $1 they received in premiums.