The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has declared a catastrophe for areas of North Queensland affected by this week’s storms, primarily the Cassowary Coast and Hinchinbrook regions.

The insurance industry will now prioritise claims from policyholders affected by inundation and storm-related damage. ICA CEO Rob Whelan said ICA disaster recovery specialists were being deployed to the worst-affected areas and would reach communities once roads reopened and emergency services allowed access.

“Insurers will be mobilising response teams in the coming days to help households and businesses in affected north Queensland areas, where the severe inundation has been experienced,” Whelan said.

“The ICA and insurers are closely monitoring the current catastrophe and are liaising with emergency services and the Queensland Government.

“I assure the residents of North Queensland and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk that the insurance industry is harnessing its resources to help customers in a fair and timely manner,” he said.

Now that a catastrophe has been declared this morning in North Queensland, the ICA is moving quickly, it has:

  • Activated its disaster hotline – 1800 734 621 – to assist policyholders if they’re uncertain of their insurance details, or have general inquiries about the claims process. Community members can also enquire via

  • Mobilised ICA staff to work directly with local services and affected policyholders in affected regions
  • Established an industry taskforce to address and identify issues that arise

Whelan said the ICA and insurers were committed to reducing the financial and emotional stress associated with extreme weather, from the initial assessment process through to the clean up and start of rebuilding works.

He said insurers would triage claims to ensure the worst-affected customers would receive prompt attention, and urged affected policyholders to contact their insurers as soon as possible to lodge a claim and discuss the recovery process.

He said the industry’s response to Cyclone Debbie, just under 12 months ago, had been the fastest on record. To date insurers have handled more than 70,000 Debbie-related claims, with insurance losses of more than $1.67 billion – the worst cyclone in Queensland history for property damage, and the second most-expensive cyclone on record in today’s dollars (after Cyclone Tracey).