SA bushfire claims nearing $100m

The fires that moved through South Australia last week have been declared catastrophic, with total insured losses of $88.2 million expected to climb as more claims are processed.

Two people have been killed since the fires began, while at least 82,000 hectares have been burned and at least 290 properties affected, including 35 homes destroyed.

Approximately $40 million of crops are expected to have been lost and farmers may be subject to years of land rehabilitation to restore topsoil loss and erosion.

Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) CEO Rob Whelan says that the region’s agricultural sector has received a blow, with crops, property and livestock in the area badly damaged.

“These fires have had a devastating impact on the farming community with crop, stock and commercial assets making up the overwhelming bulk of the losses so far,” Whelan says.

“The ICA’s Catastrophe Taskforce has received reports of significant livestock losses, including thousands of pigs, sheep and chickens.”

JLT Australia South Australia Director Gary Okely says that the damage to livestock is severe.

“There’s reports of nearly 70,000 animals affected, mainly sheep and poultry, and piggeries,” Okely says.  

“I think there are more claims yet to be made, but that is the current state of play at the moment.”

Okely says that while councils are helping with recovery, there are areas of the state still at risk.

“State and local councils are supporting recovery efforts. [Monday] was a particularly bad fire day as well, with strong winds, and the flare-up issue is still strong. It’s still a fireground, really,” Okely says.

“It’s early days. The claim notifications are still coming in.

“Where there is significant damage, early repayments will be made just to help support the recovery process.

“The community has responded as regional communities do – they have responded very well. The insurance brokers have responded well to their client groups,” Okely adds.

“I think everyone is doing their utmost at the moment, given that it’s fairly fresh and new.”