Mildura storm declared catastrophe event

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has declared a catastrophe for damage caused by a severe hail storm that struck the Mildura region of north-west Victoria, and nearby parts of New South Wales and South Australia, last Friday.

Insurers have received about 9000 claims, with estimated insured losses of more than $20 million with an unknown estimate for crop loss at this stage. This is expected to grow as agriculture losses are assessed and more claims are expected over the next few weeks.

ICA CEO Rob Whelan said the industry had escalated its response to help policyholders affected by the storm.

“In addition to the building and vehicle damage these storms typically bring, the storm has caused significant agricultural losses. The timing could barely be worse for many producers, coming so close to harvest time. Fortunately, a substantial proportion of the damaged crops, trees and vines will be covered by insurance,” Mr Whelan said.

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

The ICA and its members are also liaising with state governments, local councils, emergency services and other agencies.

Mr Whelan said affected policyholders should contact their insurer or insurance broker as soon as possible so the claims process could commence.

“Representatives of several insurance companies have already arrived in the area to assist their policyholders,” he said.

“Insurers recognise how serious this situation is for a region so dependent on agriculture, and are responding with appropriate urgency.”

The 11 November Hailstorm that struck Mildura in Victoria, as well as parts of eastern South Australia and western New South Wales.

Typical hail and storm damage has been reported to residential and commercial buildings as well as a significant number of vehicles. Whilst this event is not unusual for this time of year, the geography is significant in its size and it has come at a particularly bad time for crop operations, orchardists and vineyards in the area who are reporting significant loss.