Catastrophe declaration extended to Northern NSW

The widespread flooding in northern NSW as the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Debbie moves south has prompted the Insurance Council of Australia to add the region to its catastrophe declaration.

The insurance industry will now prioritise claims from storm and flood-affected policyholders beyond those affected when the Category 4 cyclone crossed the Queensland coast between Bowen and Airlie Beach. Flood waters were expected to peak on Thursday afternoon for rivers in the state’s north, with the Tweed, Wilsons and Richmond valleys of most concern.

ICA CEO Rob Whelan said insurers were mobilising response teams to help households and businesses in northern New South Wales and south-east Queensland, where severe flooding was being reported.
He said insurers were closely monitoring the evolving disaster and were liaising closely with emergency services and governments in both states.

“I assure NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk that the insurance industry is harnessing its resources to help customers in a fair and timely manner,” he said.

“Though 7500 claims have been lodged from Queenslanders as of noon (Brisbane time) today, this is only the early stage of a natural disaster and I expect the insurance losses could reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars as householders and businesses return to their properties and lodge claims.

“This level of catastrophe has not been seen since ex-TC Oswald in 2014, when storms and flooding affected large parts of Queensland and NSW and caused insurance losses of almost $1.2 billion.”

The disaster hotline – 1800 734 621 – is helping policyholders if they are uncertain which insurer they are with, or have general inquiries about the claims process