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Emergency protocols to include insurance responders

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Emergency Management Australia protocol changes have classified insurer disaster personnel as emergency responders and introduced measures to hasten processing of applications to cross borders.

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) says disaster response personnel covered by the protocol will include claims assessors, loss adjusters and other claims specialists.

Protocol changes adopted by federal, state and territory governments also set a 72-hour limit for the processing of applications to send personnel across borders.

“Timely deployment of insurers’ personnel and contractors to assist customers in the immediate aftermath of a severe weather event is essential in assisting communities to recover and rebuild,” ICA CEO Andrew Hall said today.

ICA says more action is still needed to reduce red tape and prevent delays and setbacks after disasters, with restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic continuing in some regions.

Insurers are continuing to push for National Cabinet to put in place a consistent approach on borders to replace ad-hoc state-based approvals procedures.

“While we welcome the inclusion of insurers in the emergency deployment protocol and the requirement that cross-border approvals be processed within 72 hours, more can be done to better ensure communities have more timely access to the help they need,” Mr Hall said.

Modelling undertaken for ICA found that if an event the size of 2017’s Cyclone Debbie occurred now and border restrictions delayed insurers by seven days, a total economic shortfall of $687 million would result over the eight weeks following the event.

A national approach outlined by ICA would require responders to be fully vaccinated and have returned a negative test result in the previous 72 hours, while it has also proposed arrangements that would allow for the deployment of overseas personnel.