The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has declared a catastrophe for the bushfires in Perth Hills.
The blaze, which continues to burn near the capital of Western Australia, has destroyed 81 homes, sheds, and kilometres of farm fences – forcing hundreds of residents to shelter in evacuation centres despite Perth’s strict COVID-19 lockdown.
Insurers have received over 270 claims since the beginning of the fires, according to the ICA, with around $40 million in estimated losses expected to rise over the coming days as residents return to their homes.
Under the catastrophe declaration, the ICA has:
- Activated its disaster hotline 1800 734 621 to assist policyholders uncertain of their insurance details or who have general enquiries about the insurance claim process;
- Deployed an ICA disaster recovery specialist to support affected property owners and the local community; and
- Launched an insurance industry taskforce to identify and address any issues that may arise during the recovery stage.
Insurers have responded to the bushfires by mobilising local assessors and claims specialists, with more responders on standby to support affected residents under the region’s essential worker guidelines. Their teams will move into affected communities as soon as emergency services declare it safe to do so.
Meanwhile, the ICA deployed its natural disaster response specialist to Perth last week to meet with state and local government agencies, emergency services, and impacted property and business owners.
ICA chief executive officer Andrew Hall reminded affected policyholders to contact their insurer as soon as possible to start the claims process.
“The declaration of a catastrophe means claims from these bushfires will be prioritised by insurers, who will be focusing on reducing the immense emotional and financial stress experienced by residents, farmers and businesses,” Hall said. “The ICA will provide guidance to impacted communities throughout the recovery process.”