The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has declared a Catastrophe for bushfires that have damaged or destroyed homes and property in northern New South Wales and south-east Queensland.
ICA CEO Rob Whelan said more than 70 bushfires were still burning across southern QLD and NSW and the declaration gives priority to claims from affected policyholders.
The fires fanned by high winds have resulted in multiple property losses since September 5, with the focus today on the area around Stanthorpe close to the NSW /QLD border as well as locations in the Gold Coast hinterland. The extent of property loss is still to be determined, as is an estimate of the financial loss.
“Insurance companies are standing by to help their customers. I encourage anyone who has suffered property damage to contact their insurer as soon as possible to seek guidance on the claims process and the assistance they are entitled to under their policy,” Whelan said.
The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has activated its significant event response plan following the NSW and QLD bushfires being declared a catastrophe by the ICA.
The significant event response plan is activated for events that can potentially result in significant numbers of related complaints coming to AFCA. It provides for early communication with relevant stakeholders and a more streamlined, expedited process for the resolution of related complaints.
AFCA has encourage those who have been affected by the NSW and QLD bushfires to contact their insurance companies.
Under the declaration the ICA has:
Activated its disaster hotline – 1800 734 621 – to assist policyholders if they are uncertain of their insurance details, or have general inquiries about the claims process
· Community members can also enquire via www.disasters.org.au
The ICA is making arrangements to represent the insurance industry at community meetings in affected areas. The meetings will provide property owners with important information about the insurance claim process.