Insurance claims from bushfire-affected householders and small businesses in two Queensland communities will be escalated and prioritised following the extension of the current Catastrophe declaration.
The declaration now covers customers who suffered bushfire-related insured losses in Yeppoon and on the Sunshine Coast as well as the New South Wales mid-north coast.
The decision followed confirmation of property losses and consultation between the Insurance Council of Australia, the Queensland Government, the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service and local insurers.
Insurance Council of Australia Head of Communications Campbell Fuller said insurers had experienced a rapid increase in claims over the past 24 hours.
He encouraged affected property owners to contact their insurers as soon as possible to allow the claims process to start.
“Insurance assessors are starting to visit a limited number of areas that have been declared safe by emergency services, but dangerous bushfires remain active in many regions,” Mr Fuller said.
“Once insurers are aware of a claim they can swiftly provide appropriate help to the customer, which in many cases may include authorising urgent repairs or arranging emergency accommodation.”
Mr Fuller urged property owners in active bushfire areas to heed the advice of emergency services and not take unnecessary risks.
“Preparing your property to reduce the risk of bushfire attack is sensible and prudent, but lives are more important than properties,” he said.
By 2pm today, insurers had received 450 bushfire-related claims from NSW and Queensland. Insured losses are estimated at $50 million. Many more claims are expected to be lodged in coming days and weeks.
Claims from these bushfires will be prioritised by all insurers. The declaration is intended to reduce the emotional, physical and financial stress experienced by affected families.