Catastrophe declared for Cyclone Debbie

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has declared a catastrophe for damage caused by Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie and stated that insurers were anticipating thousands of claims.

ICA CEO Rob Whelan said it was too early to gauge the extent of the damage but insurers were ready to assist policyholders who suffered financial losses caused by the Category 4 cyclone.

“Insurers are already taking calls from policyholders, and many have teams standing by to enter the impact zone, assess claims and deliver assistance to their customers,” Whelan said.

The ICA has activated its disaster hotline 1800 734 621 to help policyholders if they are uncertain which insurer they are with, or have general inquiries about the claims process. Though the cyclone was expected to lose intensity after crossing the coast, Whelan warned the risk to life and property would remain.

“Even a Category 1 cyclone can generate wind gusts up to 125kmh, sufficient to fell trees or send debris flying dangerously,” he said.

“Insurers are prioritising claims from this disaster, and using a triage system to get assistance to those policyholders in most urgent need of assistance first.”

Suncorp CEO Insurance Anthony Day said the safety of all customers who are likely to be impacted by the cyclone is the number one priority at this time.

“We have the experience and capability to get North Queenslanders back on their feet as quickly as possible,” Mr Day said.

QBE has also advised customers to call on 133 QBE (133 723) and press 2 for Claims when they are safe and able to do so. ICA and QBE have also stated that it is okay if customers don’t know their policy details when making contact. Insurers have electronic records and need only your name and address.