Sunshine Coast hail storm declared a Catastrophe

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has declared a Catastrophe following storms that caused extensive hail damage across south-eastern Queensland yesterday.

The ABC reported that, hailstones the size of cricket balls fell in the Sunshine Coast hinterland as parts of Queensland were hit by storms on Nov 17. Prior to the Bureau of Meteorology had issued a warning for people in parts of Redland City, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane City and Moreton Bay for “destructive winds” and “giant hailstones”.

As of 2:00 pm (Queensland time), Nov 18, insurers have received more than 5000 claims (including about 3000 motor vehicle claims), with losses of about $40 million. However, insurers expect many more claims will be lodged by householders and businesses over the next few days.

Insurance Council Head of Risk and Operations Karl Sullivan encouraged property owners to lodge claims directly with their insurers – either online or through call centres – as soon as they were able.

“Storm and hail damage is covered by household policies and comprehensive motor vehicle policies,” he said. “Insurers are standing by to help their customers and are already mobilising assessors to examine damaged properties and cars.”

Sullivan said insurers had received claims for damage to cars and other vehicles (typically smashed windscreens and dented panels), and urged motorists not to drive unroadworthy vehicles.

He said many homes and businesses had suffered damage to roofs, awnings and solar panels, and overflowing gutters have caused interior damage to some properties.

Under the declaration the ICA has:

  • Activated its disaster hotline – 1800 734 621 – to assist policyholders if they are uncertain of their insurance details, or have general inquiries about the claims process (this is NOT a claims lodgement service)
  • Established an industry taskforce to address and identify issues that arise, and work directly with emergency services, agencies and the government

This is the sixth catastrophe declared this year by the ICA. Last week a Catastrophe was declared for bushfires that have damaged or destroyed hundreds of properties in the mid-north coast of NSW, and Yeppoon and the Sunshine Coast. More on the bushfires here and here.

As of noon on Nov 18, insured losses are estimated at $110 million, with 1000 claims received to date. Many more are expected.

In October, the Rappville bushfire resulted in 200 claims with insured losses estimated at $25 million. In September, insurers received 300 claims from fires in northern NSW and south-east Queensland, with $20 million in insured losses. In March, the Bunyip bushfires in eastern Victoria caused losses of $31.9 million, with 432 claims received.

The first Catastrophe for the year was declared in February for damage to Townsville and surrounding regions following a monsoonal downpour. Insurers received more than 30,000 claims with losses of $1.3 billion.