Melbourne Storms declared Catastrophe

Melbourne Storms Declared ‘Catastrophe;’ Full Year Insured Losses = $4.5 Billion

Violent storms struck Melbourne on Christmas Day, causing wide spread damage to buildings and infrastructure. Insurer QBE said the country’s insurers have already received more than 15,000 claims as a result of the storm.

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has formally declared a catastrophe for the damage to homes, businesses and vehicles caused by the storms. It noted that this is the “eighth catastrophe declared by the general insurance industry in 2011, with insurable losses through catastrophes likely to exceed A$4.5 billion [US$4.53 billion] compared with A$2.144 billion [$2.153 billion] in 2010.”

Rob Whelan, CEO of the Insurance Council, explained that the declaration meant an insurance taskforce had been established and that the APRA [Australian Regulation Prudential Authority] would monitor the industry’s response.

He also indicated that the insurance industry would continue to work closely with the Victorian Government and local authorities to help communities recover, and issues would be swiftly identified and addressed.

Whelan confirmed that over 15,000 claims, “including about 11,000 on December 27 and 28 alone,” have already been made. “We expect this will grow as many Victorians return from their holidays to discover their properties and vehicles have been damaged,” he added.

At present Whelan indicated that it “is still too early to provide an accurate estimate of losses. So far, about one-third of the claims relate to damage to houses and businesses, with the rest for damage to vehicles.”

The ICA also noted that it is “operating its disaster hotline − 1800 734 621 − to help affected Victorians who are not sure which insurer they are with or who have general inquiries about the claims process.”

Whelan reassured Victorians that legitimate claims would be paid in accord with their policies, with insurers focusing on processing claims as swiftly as possible. “Hundreds of staff have volunteered to return from their holidays to help insurance companies handle inquiries and claims from policyholders, and most call centers are now back to full strength. Call waiting times are progressively being reduced, and we thank affected Victorians for their patience over the past few days,” he explained.

Source: Insurance Council of Australia