Bushfire victims in Yeppoon and the Sunshine Coast will now have their insurance claims prioritised after the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) expanded its catastrophe declaration in the New South Wales mid-north coast to include the two Queensland communities.
The announcement came after a rapid increase in claims from the catastrophic bushfires in NSW and Queensland, with insurers receiving 450 claims as of Wednesday afternoon, amounting to some $50 million in insured losses. These numbers are expected to increase in coming days and weeks.
Campbell Fuller, ICA head of communications, urged affected property owners to contact their insurers ASAP to allow the claims process to start.
“Insurance assessors are starting to visit a limited number of areas that have been declared safe by emergency services, but dangerous bushfires remain active in many regions,” Fuller said. “Once insurers are aware of a claim, they can swiftly provide appropriate help to the customer, which in many cases may include authorising urgent repairs or arranging emergency accommodation.”
Fuller also urged impacted residents to heed the advice of emergency services and not take unnecessary risks.
“Preparing your property to reduce the risk of bushfire attack is sensible and prudent, but lives are more important than properties,” Fuller said.
Under the catastrophe declaration, the ICA has activated its disaster hotline, 1800 734 621, to assist policyholders with their insurance concerns, mobilised Insurance Council disaster recovery specialists to support affected property owners and local community groups, and established an industry taskforce to identify and address issues that arise.