The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has declared an insurance catastrophe for Tropical Cyclone Seroja that devastated parts of Western Australia (WA).
Tropical Cyclone Seroja arrived at the coastal town of Kalbarri and Northampton late Sunday. It has severely damaged homes, businesses, telecommunications, road infrastructure, and electricity service across several WA communities. Access to areas north of Geraldton is also limited.
The ICA's catastrophe declaration ensures that all insurers will prioritise insurance claims from the impacted areas. Claims will also be triaged to direct urgent assistance to the worst-affected property owners.
As part of the declaration, the ICA's disaster hotline is activated (1800 734 621) and offers assistance to policyholders if they are uncertain of their insurance details or have general inquiries about the claims process. The council also deployed representatives to work with State and local government and emergency agencies to assist affected policyholders.
Commenting on the catastrophe, ICA chief executive officer Andrew Hall said: “TC Seroja has severely damaged homes, businesses, telecommunications, and road infrastructure as well as the electricity service across a number of West Australian communities. Access to areas north of Geraldton is limited, so it is too early to understand the extent of the damage to property in the affected region.”
Insurers have received over 700 claims since the cyclone devastated WA. However, the ICA has not yet estimated a loss dollar figure as severely impacted areas are currently inaccessible.
Insurers have mobilised their disaster response specialists to assist affected customers with claims and assessments. Meanwhile, assessors are waiting to move into affected communities as soon as emergency services give the go signal. An industry taskforce is also established to identify and address issues arising from the cyclone.
The ICA expects a substantial increase in claims as soon as telecommunications and power are restored to affected areas in the coming days.