Insurance claims soar following Sydney storms

Peter Terlato 22 February 2017 NEWS

Lightning storm Sydney, Australia

Northern Sydney hit hardest by hail, damage to vehicles.

In the last week heavy rain and hailstorms battered Sydney's north western suburbs and northern beaches, triggering tens of thousands of insurance claims, mostly for damage to vehicles.

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) labelled the powerful storm a "catastrophe", with insurers receiving around 17,500 claims across Sydney and estimated insured losses of $42 million.

The ICA also classified the recent New South Wales bushfires, which claimed at least 45 homes, a catastrophic event, prompting 1,200 claims and totalling $28.5 million in insured losses.

ICA CEO Rob Whelan said claims and losses from both events were likely to rise further.

"Two hailstorms hitting within a few hours has left destruction across the city. Insurers received a surge in claims as the extent of the damage to homes, businesses and vehicles became apparent," he said.

"Agricultural losses, such as livestock, crops, fencing and equipment, typically take longer to assess."

An industry taskforce has been established to respond to any issues that may arise. The ICA is also liaising with state and local governments, emergency services and other agencies to expedite the claims assessment and repair process.

The ICA also activated its disaster hotline - 1800 734 621 - which is aimed at assisting policyholders to identify their insurer and properly submit claims.

Australian insurance company Allianz are reportedly receiving as many as 80 claims per hour, with figures expected to climb throughout the week.

"Claims figures are quite high with some property claims; however the majority of claims received have been motor related," Allianz general manager claims Danny Adams said.

The insurer also activated an emergency response plan to assist in handling the influx of claims; erecting two hail assessment centres in Sydney and communicating with customers on how best to lodge claims.

While claims and damages from these events have been substantial, they don't compare to the $421 million bill from Sydney's Anzac Day hailstorm in 2015, or the $1.7 billion in losses from the 1999 hailstorm.

Satisfaction among Australian consumers with regards to insurance policies, particularly risk and life cover, continues to dissipate, according to the latest Roy Morgan Research customer survey findings.

Car and home insurance premiums are set to rise in 2017. Find out why and what to expect when they do.

Latest car insurance headlines

Picture: Shutterstock

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