Since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, the insurance industry in Australia has seen a shift in the types of claims submitted as the government-imposed lockdowns have changed the way people go about their daily lives.
The social-distancing and quarantine measures in place meant people are travelling less and staying home often, resulting in fewer car insurance and more home and content insurance claims being filed.
The country’s largest insurer IAG, with subsidiaries NRMA, CGU, SGIO and SGIC, said there had been a reduction in motor claims in recent months across the companies. But this comes as rent- and travel-related claims surged.
"Given the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, we have also seen a substantial increase in travel insurance claims and a steady increase for rent default under our landlord insurance policies," IAG said in a statement.
"We recognise the extraordinary circumstances our customers are experiencing during this crisis and the deep impact it is having on people, businesses and communities - financially, socially and emotionally."
While data on the total number of claims across the industry since the outbreak began have yet to be released by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, insurers said they already felt the impact of the pandemic.
But according to the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA), the total number of claims may not have increased, instead the coronavirus outbreak has shifted the types of claims issued to providers.
Campbell Fuller, the ICA’s Head of Communication and Media, in an interview with The Islander, said that while fewer motor vehicle claims have been made due to people not being on the road as often, people spending more time at home had resulted in more home and contents claims.
"One of the most common claims to be lodged for household insurance is a kitchen fire, and with more people cooking from home, that risk may go up," he said. "The risk factors don't fall, they just simply change, and we've had to balance fewer cars on the road with other reasons."
Fuller also said it was too early to tell the true impact of the COVID-19 crisis would have on the industry.
"The general insurance sector is struggling to deal with the impact coronavirus is having,” he said.
"It's not been business as usual, it's been far from it. Just about every other sector of the economy has been affected.”
The impact of coronavirus comes as more than $4.6 billion worth of claims were made because of recent bushfire crisis. These claims were not being pushed back amid the pandemic.