Insurance Council of Australia says more than 83 per cent of bushfire claims have already closed

Insurers have already paid $3.85 billion to customers affected by last summer’s bushfires, floods and hailstorms, according to industry data released today by the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA). 

ICA CEO Rob Whelan said the industry was well ahead of its normal natural disaster response, with more than 83 per cent of bushfire claims already closed.

He said the industry had received more than 297,780 claims from four ICA-declared Catastrophes during the 2019-20 summer, with losses of almost $5.4 billion.

Insurers have spent $3.85 billion in property repairs and rebuilding works, emergency accommodation and support, replacement of contents, new and repaired vehicles, plant and equipment, and financial settlements.

Whelan said insurers had maintained their focus on helping households and businesses affected by natural disasters, despite a dramatic curtailing of services and resources since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges of working in remote regions. 

“The pandemic complicated our industry’s ability to physically respond in a timely manner, to get assessors and tradespeople into affected areas, overcome logistical challenges, source materials and labour, and to begin repairs and rebuilds,” he said.

“However, insurers have worked tirelessly since the summer catastrophes and during the COVID-19 crisis, managing lockdown and social distancing constraints to continue their work to help customers and communities across southern and eastern Australia.

“This was the worst natural disaster season I have experienced in my 10-plus years as chief executive of the Insurance Council.

“The industry’s efforts to help their customers through the emotional, physical and financial blows caused by these catastrophes is the best I’ve seen, despite the complications of COVID-19, and insurers continue to fine-tune their response.

“The insurance industry will continue to work to assist affected communities and policyholders and work through the remaining open claims to help people move on and rebuild their homes and lives.”