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Flood figures double in a week

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The number of flood-related claims received by insurers has nearly doubled in the past week as a picture of the devastation wrought in central and southeast Queensland becomes clear.

By last Friday the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) had counted 53,711 claims totalling $553 million in insured losses – almost doubling the previous week’s figure of $290 million.

Queensland-based Suncorp has absorbed the bulk of the losses, with 23,000 claims received by Wednesday last week, five times the figure from a fortnight ago. Due to the group’s 30% quota share arrangement on its Queensland home insurance portfolio, the cost of claims will not exceed $220 million. The insurer has an allowance of $520 million for events up to June 30.

IAG’s flood exposure is capped at $150 million for the first event under this year’s reinsurance program. It had received more than 13,700 claims by this morning, expected to cost in the range of $120-$140 million.

ICA CEO Rob Whelan says the claims figure is likely to rise further.

“Though insurers have received a high volume of claims, this summer’s fire and flood risk had largely been anticipated and factored into commercial, prudential and logistical preparation,” Mr Whelan said.

“I note that many parts of Australia have not yet reached the peak of their local disaster seasons, and more cyclones, floods and bushfires remain a strong possibility.”

The number of claims from floods and storms across northern NSW, mostly in Grafton and the Tweed River region, has risen to 8000 at a cost of $20 million. ICA also says bushfires in Tasmania and the Coonabarabran region of NSW will cost insurers a combined $101 million.

Meanwhile, Bundaberg residents will have their chance to speak directly to insurers later this month at a town hall event hosted by ICA.

Similar to town hall meetings held in the wake of the first Queensland floods nearly two years ago, the forum will give insured property-owners from the Wide Bay-Burnett region the opportunity to resolve any issues with their claim, ICA says.

The forum will cover key aspects of the recovery process, including claims handling and management, claims assessment, site clean-up, claims settlement options and dispute resolution.

Representatives from insurers, the Financial Ombudsman Services and Queensland Legal Aid will also attend the forum.