DAILY NEWS Feb 12, 2013 10:00 AM - 0 comments

IAG estimates Oswald claims to date at as much as $140 million

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Insurance Australia Group’s (IAG) Australia Direct and CGU businesses is are estimating the more than 13,700 claims received to date following ex-tropical cyclone Oswald will carry costs of $120 million to $140 million.

All figures are in Australian dollars.

The number of claims is based on those received as of Feb. 11, notes a statement from IAG. Additionally, 600 claims have been received in relation to the bushfires in New South Wales (NSW), Tasmania and Victoria, carrying an estimated cost of approximately $35 million, the statement adds. 

“Our Australia Direct and CGU businesses offer flood and bushfire cover to customers across Australia and we have assessors and builders in all impacted areas already helping customers,” says Mike Wilkins, managing director and CEO of IAG. “Our recovery operation is well under way and our absolute focus is on making sure our customers get the support they need as soon as possible.” 

Last Friday, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) updated its claims figures for the four declared catastrophes so far this summer. General insurance companies have received more than 65,000 claims, with insurance losses conservatively estimated at $674 million, notes a statement from ICA.

Council CEO Rob Whelan said last Friday that more claims were likely to be received over the next fortnight from catastrophe-hit regions. 

ICA reported last week that the Queensland floods and storm damage has produced 53,711 claims, amounting to $553 million in insurance losses; the NSW floods and storm damage has prompted 8,000 claims, with insured losses of $20 million; the Tasmanian bushfires have led to 1,900 claims, producing insured losses of $89 million; and the NSW bushfires (Coonabarabran region) has resulted in 1,500 claims, carrying insured losses estimated at $12 million.

Although insurers received 8,000 flood-related claims in NSW – mainly from Grafton and the Tweed and Northern River regions – the scale of the damage caused by the floods was notably less than experienced in Queensland, the ICA statement notes. “Flood mitigation in places such as Grafton has done its job and protected many communities. Without mitigation, Grafton could easily have been as severely affected as Bundaberg [Queensland],” Whelan reports.

“This again highlights the importance of investing in physical mitigation measures, such as levees, dams, barrages and drainage work, where it is feasible to do so. A relatively small investment to build a levee around a mid-size town may be recouped many times over the life of the levee,” he emphasizes.

Eligible Queensland flood victims can apply for emergency assistance payments from the Queensland Floods Appeal 2013, notes a statement from the Queensland Government. Emergency payments will go first to those whose homes were made uninhabitable by the floods and the damaged residence was the principal place of residence at the time of the flooding; and the damaged residence was flooded internally above the level of the floor in the living areas, making the home uninhabitable, or the damage caused by the winds was structural, making the residence uninhabitable.

“Though insurers have received a high volume of claims, this summer’s fire and flood risk had largely been anticipated and factored into commercial, prudential and logistical preparations,” Whelan notes in the ICA statement. That said, “many parts of Australia have not yet reached the peak of their local disaster seasons, and more cyclones, floods and bushfires remain a strong possibility.”

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