More than 410 claims have been received from policyholders affected by the southern Tasmanian bushfires in Australia, with losses estimated at nearly $44 million as of Tuesday, according to the Insurance Council of Australia’s preliminary data.
In an Insurance Council of Australia statement, CEO Rob Whelan said he expected insurers would receive more claims from southern Tasmania this week as policyholders returned to their properties.
The Insurance Council formally declared the Tasmania bushfires a catastrophe on Jan. 5., which covered the worst-affected areas.
The bushfires, which began last Thursday, have been exacerbated by a major heatwave in the country.
Temperatures of over 41° C were recorded in the state capital of Hobart last Friday, the city’s hottest day since recordkeeping began in the 1880s, according to catastrophe modelling firm AIR Worldwide.
As of Monday morning, there were 35 active bushfires across Tasmania, six of which were reportedly contained, AIR Worldwide stated in an advisory.
“Although extremely hot and dry weather continues to ravage most of New South Wales and Victoria, fire conditions have begun to ease across Tasmania, aiding firefighters’ efforts to hold containment lines and control the active blazes,” Tomas Girnius, senior scientist at AIR Worldwide noted in the advisory.
“The most destructive of the multiple bushfires to ravage Tasmania over the last several days devastated the township of Dunalley on the Tasman Peninsula,” he added. “In Dunalley, about 30% of the buildings were destroyed. Other villages near Dunalley also lost between 30 and 40% of residences to the fires. Bushfires burned 40% of structures in the community of Connellys Marsh, and several homes in the Murdunna region north of Port Arthur were also destroyed.”
On Monday, the Australian government declared the Tasmanian fires a disaster for the purposes of establishing Australian disaster relief funds. The government also deployed a Mobile Service Centre to southeast Tasmania on Monday to assist with fire-affected areas.
“Officers in the mobile centre will help people lodge their applications for Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment,” Kim Carr, Australia’s Minister of Human Services said in a government statement.
The payment provides one-off funding for people who have been adversely affected by a disaster. If eligible, people will receive $1,000 per adult and $400 per child under 16 years.