Rob Whelan, ICA CEO, said the insurance industry was still unclear about the full extent of damages to residential and business properties and crops, but had escalated its response to help policyholders.
“Early reports indicate the region has suffered extensive crop losses, while about 100 businesses and homes may also have been affected by flooding," Whelan said.
"It's likely that insurance losses will be in the tens of millions of dollars. However, it will take several weeks for the full extent of the losses to be known.”
“The ICA and its members are liaising with the NSW Government, local municipalities, emergency services, and other agencies. Several insurers have already begun setting up disaster response teams in the Forbes region to assist their policyholders.”
By declaring the major flooding a catastrophe, ICA has enabled the following:
- establishment of an industry taskforce which will identify and address emerging issues;
- activation of disaster hotline 1800 734 621 to help policyholders with their inquiries, including which insurer they are with or about the claims process; and
- mobilisation of ICA staff to work with local services and affected policyholders in the region.
Whelan advised affected policyholders to contact their insurer or insurance broker as soon as possible to commence the claims process. He said insurance assessors would start visiting properties once it was safe to do so.
“Insurers have electronic records so policyholders who can’t find their paperwork need only provide their name and address,” Whelan said.
"They are also prioritising insurance claims from the catastrophe region to ensure resources are directed to those policyholders most in need of assistance."
Whelan said flood damage is now covered in over 95 per cent of household insurance policies purchased in Australia under the Federal Government’s standard definition.
“Flood cover is also available to all farms and other businesses, but it’s not yet clear how many of the affected primary producers chose not to purchase policies that cover flood damage to crops," he said.
“In those rare cases where homes, businesses, and farms have been inundated and did not purchase flood cover, insurers will use independent hydrologists to determine if losses can be covered under other provisions of their policies.”
The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has declared the major flooding around Forbes in the Central West of New South Wales a catastrophe.