Cyclone Marcia damage heads north

More than 14,000 Cyclone Marcia claims are expected to be lodged by the end of the week, as property owners and loss assessors access to storm-bruised areas but the damage is proving far less than first feared.

More than 5000 people are still without power in towns of Rockhampton and Yeppoon and the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services has declared 475 homes unlivable.

Insurance losses have more than doubled than what was first estimated by the Insurance Council of Australia, with the current estimate sitting at $88 million, which ICA Spokesman Campbell Fuller will climb further.

“The Insurance Council member companies expect those figures will continue to rise and they are prioritising claims from the Cyclone under the Insurance Council catastrophe provisions,” he says.

“They are also diverting resources to policyholders most at need.

“However, this is expected to be well short of the damage experienced under Cyclone Yasi and Cyclone Oswald in insurance losses in Queensland and Northern NSW. So though the damage has been ferocious through Central Queensland, it has been much less than it otherwise might just have been.”

Ausure Insurance Brokers Owner Manager Jeff Harris had to relocate outside Rockhampton in order to handle claims last week, but says a sense of normality is returning.

“I am back in the office, we are in. We got power back on Sunday, so we have been in here drowning in paper work all day,” he says.

“But there are still a lot of people who don’t have power, but certainly a lot of the area has got it back over the weekend.

“That makes a hell of a difference and that is why I started to get a couple more calls from clients, I wasn’t able to touch base with now that their phone is up and going.

Houses built before 1980 have borne the worst damage, with Peter Peirano, Principal Broker of Piranha Insurance Brokers in Rockhampton, praising later building standards for saving many homes.

“This is better than Cyclone Tracy because of the building standards,” he says.

“Really, the majority of the sub-standard buildings have failed, and they will continue to fail. But the buildings built from 1985 onwards and the nice low-set brick houses only suffered damage from large trees falling through them.”

“There has been some damage from monster trees; we have one landlord who has a large gumtree through the top of the house. There will be some total losses of houses due to trees.”

Suncorp has also announced that they are unlikely to reach their designated equity target of 10% for fiscal 2015 due to the close proximity of the Brisbane hailstorm in November and Cyclone Marcia.

The ICA have also updated stakeholders on the South Australian bushfires with the claims estimate sitting at 1081, for a reserved estimate of $33.2 million.

More than 300 properties and 475 commercial claims fall under that figure.