NSW flood insurance update


News release

Tuesday 23 March 2021

Policyholders have lodged 11,700 insurance claims associated with the devastating storms and flooding in NSW, with further claims being made since those numbers were reported at 9.30am, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) reported today.

The claims show the areas with the most claims are the NSW mid-north coast towns of Port Macquarie, Kempsey, Laurieton, and Taree, and west of Sydney around Penrith and in the Hawkesbury-Nepean valley.

It is too early to estimate the cost of the damage as access to inundated properties is restricted and many remain isolated, however as a point of comparison insurers paid out almost $1 billion in related to the February 2020 east coast storms and flooding event.

Following the 2012 Brisbane floods insurers now use a standard flood definition for home building and contents policies.

Policyholders must make an explicit decision to exclude flood when buying or renewing a policy and some insurers will not provide cover that does not include flood.

But policyholders who have opted out of flood cover are still covered for storm-related damage and are encouraged to contact their insurer to obtain an assessment of their particular circumstances.

Policyholders with injured livestock do not need to wait for an assessor to visit the property before euthanising animals, but they should contact their insurer as soon as possible and keep a record before disposing of deceased livestock.

With respect to South East Queensland, the ICA continues to work closely with members to determine if a catastrophe declaration is required for that area.

Quote attributable to Andrew Hall, CEO, Insurance Council of Australia:

This remains an active natural disaster and it will take some time to gain a clearer picture of the damage.

Insurers expect a large number of claims will be lodged in coming days as property owners begin returning to homes and businesses.

We encourage policy holders to contact their insurer as soon as practically possible even if they have not been able to return to their home.

Insurers are already contacting policy holders in impacted areas to help with the claims process and providing temporary accommodation to residents who have been displaced.

For policyholders who are unable to determine their insurer, the ICA is operating a hotline (1800 734 621) to help link them with their insurer.

Insurance and flood damage – what to do when you return to your property:

  • Safety is the priority - don’t do anything that puts anyone at risk
  • Only return to your property when emergency services give the go ahead
  • If water has entered the property, don't turn on your electricity until it has been inspected by an electrician
  • Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to lodge a claim and seek guidance on the claims process
  • You can start cleaning up but first take pictures or videos of damage to the property and possessions as evidence for your claim
  • Keep samples of materials and fabrics to show your insurance assessor
  • Remove water or mud-damaged goods from your property that might pose a health risk, such as saturated carpets and soft furnishings
  • Make a list of each item damaged and include a detailed description, such as brand, model and serial number if possible
  • Store damaged or destroyed items somewhere safe
  • Speak to your insurer before you attempt or authorise any building work, including emergency repairs, and ask for the insurer’s permission in writing. Unauthorised work may not be covered by your policy
  • Do not throw away goods that could be salvaged or repaired
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