The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has declared a Catastrophe for properties damaged or destroyed in the Bunyip bushfires in Victoria.

ICA General Manager of Communications Campbell Fuller said property owners affected by the bushfires should contact their insurers as soon as possible to lodge claims and seek assistance under their policies.

He urged property owners to heed the advice of emergency services before returning to their properties.

“The declaration means claims from affected policyholders will be given priority by insurers. Claims will also be triaged to direct urgent attention to the worst-affected property owners,” he said.

“This declaration was made in consultation with the office of Premier Daniel Andrews and Emergency Management Victoria and followed reports of almost 30 destroyed properties and about 70 damaged.

“It is too early to place an estimate on losses so far, and the full extent of property losses may take several weeks to be known.”

Emergency Management Victoria has established a Community Relief Fund in support of community members affected by the recent south east Victoria fires. The Fund aims to support communities across Cardinia, Wellington, Baw Baw, East Gippsland and Latrobe areas where the fires destroyed homes and impacted communities.

Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp thanked the community for their support for impacted communities during the recent bushfires, “The impact on these communities has been significant. Recovery is different for everyone and some people, families and communities have a long journey ahead of them.”

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

The Catastrophe declaration is intended to help reduce the emotional and financial stress experienced by households and businesses affected by the bushfires.

“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,” said Fuller