Insurance claims already total $72 million

Gympie looked like a scene from an apocalyptic movie early Tuesday morning as the flood receded.
Gympie looked like a scene from an apocalyptic movie early Tuesday morning as the flood receded. Craig Warhurst

INSURANCE assessors are marshalling in regional Queensland and northern New South Wales preparing for the recovery process after the widespread flooding caused by ex-tropical cyclone Oswald.

After several days of massive rainfall and significant flooding, the Insurance Council of Australia officially declared an insurance "catastrophe" for the Tweed and Northern Rivers regions in NSW.

The declaration acknowledges the huge extent of the effects of the ex-cyclone, after a catastrophe declaration was made for Queensland from Cairns to the southern border on Saturday.

ICA general manager of communications Campbell Fuller said the extent of the current catastrophe was large, with 6100 claims already filed, totalling about $72 million.

But he said that must be put into perspective against the backdrop of the huge disasters in Queensland in the past two years, which had a total insurance bill closer to $4 billion.

Residents whose insurace documents were lost in the floods - and who may not know who their their insurer is - can contact the ICA's national hotline to find out the details.

But Mr Fuller said the council could only give general advice to people, and once they found out who held their policy they should contact the appropriate insurance company.

"We can help to identify who might hold a particular person's insurance policy, but it's not a claims number, and we can only provide general guidance for callers," he said.

He said insurers had already anticipated a higher risk this summer for both floods in Queensland and NSW and bushfires in southern Australia.

But he said at this stage, insurers believed the flooding this weekend should have little impact, but that the higher risk in some areas could see future insurance costs rise.

Mr Fuller said after the creation of a national definition of "flood" in flood insurance, most insurance companies had made the changes, meaning most people should be covered under their flood insurance.

He said recent repeated flooding events in many areas, such as Bundaberg and low-lying coastal areas, meant many companies had upgraded their risk assessments of such properties.

The declaration of a catastrophic event in Queensland and northern NSW marks the sixth such declaration in three years in Queensland, where the lion's share of natural disasters has happened in the past three years.

Call the ICA's national disaster hotline on 1800 734 621 to find out which insurer holds your policy, or for general advice on the claims process.

Topics:  flooding insurance oswald

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