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Claims to rise as residents return to flooded homes

Residents of flood-affected communities in NSW and Victoria are slowly returning to their homes as insurers tally the cost of the latest spate of floods.

By this morning insurers had received 8100 claims at a total insured cost of $64 million. About 80% of claims are for residential property.

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) told the cost figure will rise this week as evacuees – including residents from Wagga Wagga and Forbes, two of the worst hit communities in the Riverina region – return home to assess the damage.

Reinsurance broker Aon Benfield last week estimated the total cost of flooding across Queensland and NSW will reach $US919 million ($862 million). No figure for Victoria was provided.

Major flood warnings are still in place for the Riverina towns of Narrandera and Darlington Point, while Kenebree, Bourke and Louth in NSW’s central west remain on high alert.

Residents of Morundah, 125km west of Wagga Wagga, were ordered to evacuate their homes on Sunday night as river levels rose.

Cleanup activities continue in North Wagga, with the State Emergency Service telling residents they will be able to access their properties during daylight hours only.

“The ‘all clear’ will not be issued until all functional areas are satisfied that the area is safe for all residents to return,” it said.

As conditions in Victoria eased over the weekend, isolated areas received up to 9mm of rain. An evacuation order for Nathalia in the state’s north is still in place.

ICA has declared the NSW Riverina, NSW central west and northern Victoria catastrophe areas.

CEO Rob Whelan says it’s still too early to estimate the full extent of the damage.

“But we are receiving a rising number of claims for over-the-floor inundation of residential properties,” he said. “The situation is being closely monitored and hopefully will ease over coming days and not reach the same levels of damage as last year’s Queensland and Victorian floods.”

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