Storms and inundation caused by ex-tropical Cyclone Oswald has resulted in reports of substantial damage in the Wide Bay area of Queensland, Australia and moderate to severe damage in communities from the New South Wales (NSW) border north to Cairns, the country’s insurance council reported Sunday.
The severe weather has once again triggered a state-wide catastrophe declaration for large parts of Queensland, notes a statement from the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA). The declaration is the third in 2013, with others relating to severe bushfires in southeastern Tasmania and northern NSW.
Council CEO Rob Whelan reports that insurers had received several thousand claims by noon on Jan. 27. It is still too early to estimate insurance losses, Whelan says, adding that many more claims were expected this week as property owners returned from holidays.
As of Sunday, reports had been received that at least 150 properties had sustained severe damage in the Wide Bay region.
“The general insurance industry will focus on handling inquiries and claims from customers and undertaking the claims assessment process as swiftly as possible,” Whelan notes in the ICA statement.
Since early 2010, the council has declared six catastrophes in Queensland for flooding and cyclone damage, with losses of almost $4 billion.
“Insurers are greatly concerned about extreme weather expected over the next few days in Queensland, with severe inundation already having been experienced in several towns and cities, and major flood warnings now in place for every river from Cairns to the border,” says Whelan.
Reporting that the general insurance industry had anticipated a very wet summer this year, he adds, “unfortunately, this catastrophe declaration is the result of the first cyclone to come close to the coast this season, and the weather bureau has warned it’s highly possible we will see more before the end of summer.”