Nervous wait as insurers tally Cyclone Ita claims

Hundreds of claims from Cyclone Ita have already been received but many insurers are dreading a rapid rise in claims as assessors finally get access to the worst-hit areas.

The Cyclone made landfall near Cooktown in far north Queensland on Friday, with most of the damage concentrated on sugarcane fields and banana plantations.

By noon yesterday 680 claims had been received, with losses initially estimated at $8.4 million. Some media reports however have estimated the total damage bill could climb as high as $1 billion

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has formally declared the cyclone a catastrophe and ICA CEO Rob Whelan says the industry is doing all it can.

“Teams of assessors arrived in Cairns before Cyclone Ita hit in anticipation their services would be required,” he says.

“Now, as roads reopen, they are among the first non-emergency services people entering these communities when it’s declared safe to do so.

“The ICA has also sent a disaster recovery specialist to the region. He reached Cooktown today to liaise with local authorities, help identify any insurance-related issues and resolve these where possible.”

The Queensland Government has also sent mobile outreach teams to Cooktown, Laura, Wujal Wujal and Hope Vale.

Communities Minister Tracy Davis says the outreach teams will be able to provide immediate hardships payments.