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Bushfire crisis: insurers meet Treasurer as losses hit $700 million

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A general insurance industry delegation met Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg today to discuss the response to the ongoing bushfire catastrophe.

Insurers have received almost 9000 claims since September from NSW, Victoria, Queensland and SA, totalling $700 million. The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) says “many more” claims are expected.

ICA CEO Rob Whelan says the meeting – which was attended by CEOs and senior staff from insurers including IAG, Suncorp, QBE, Allianz, Zurich, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac – was “highly productive” and “conducted in a spirit of openness and collaboration”.

“The Insurance Council reassured Treasurer Frydenberg that the industry is harnessing all resources to help customers in the four states affected by catastrophic bushfires,” Mr Whelan said.

“The industry was heartened by the Treasurer’s understanding of the issues, and welcomed in principle the Commonwealth’s $2 billion commitment towards recovery efforts.”

Mr Whelan says insurers are committed to dealing “compassionately and sensitively” with customers and are “ensuring the claims process runs as painlessly and seamlessly as possible”.

About 20% of claims lodged have already been processed, and about half of these have been settled.

Mr Frydenberg says insurers are “committed to working in partnership with policyholders, governments, the building industry and other stakeholders” to carry out repairs and rebuilding.

“This included a commitment to focus on local building and construction businesses and suppliers in fire-affected communities to carry out the necessary work,” he said.