The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has declared a catastrophe for major flooding around Forbes in the Central West of New South Wales.
ICA CEO Rob Whelan said the full extent of residential, business and crop damage was not yet clear, but the insurance industry had escalated its response to help policyholders.
“Early reports indicate the region has suffered extensive crop losses, while about 100 businesses and homes may also have been affected by flooding,” Mr Whelan said. “It’s likely that insurance losses will be in the tens of millions of dollars. However, it will take several weeks for the full extent of the losses to be known.
“The ICA and its members are liaising with the NSW Government, local municipalities, emergency services and other agencies. Several insurers have already begun setting up disaster response teams in the Forbes region to assist their policyholders.”
Under the catastrophe declaration the ICA has:
• Established an industry taskforce to address and identify any issues that arise
• Activated its disaster hotline – 1800 734 621 – helping policyholders if they are uncertain which insurer they are with, or have general inquiries about the claims process
• Mobilised ICA staff to work directly with local services and affected policyholders in the region
Mr Whelan said policyholders who had been affected should contact their insurer or their insurance broker as soon as possible so the claims process could commence. He said insurance assessors would start visiting properties once it was safe to do so.
“Insurers have electronic records so policyholders who can’t find their paperwork need only provide their name and address,” he said.
“They are also prioritising insurance claims from the catastrophe region to ensure resources are directed to those policyholders most in need of assistance.”
Mr Whelan said more than 95 per cent of household insurance policies purchased in Australia now contained cover for flood damage under the Federal Government’s standard definition (see below).
“Flood cover is also available to all farms and other businesses, but it’s not yet clear how many of the affected primary producers chose not to purchase policies that cover flood damage to crops,” he said.