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Debbie claim payouts near completion

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Insurers have finalised more than 95% of residential home and contents claims lodged after Cyclone Debbie struck northern Queensland in March last year.

Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) CEO Rob Whelan told the body’s annual forum last week that losses have reached $1.67 billion from about 75,000 claims.

The total includes 37,100 residential building claims and 23,000 contents claims.

ICA says the response has been the fastest on record and shows how effective the industry has become in mobilising resources to deal with a high number of claims, even when they are in remote areas.

“While there are always lessons to be learned and improvements to be made, the industry has demonstrated a willingness to resolve issues and make necessary changes,” Mr Whelan said.

ICA also says it is addressing areas of concern raised through its Code of Practice review and other measures, as the industry faces growing pressure from inquiries and reviews.

Mr Whelan says reform fatigue is “alive and well” and the industry faces further scrutiny in areas such as unfair contract terms and product design, while recommendations may result from this year’s royal commission.

“At some point we need to pause, to take stock of the cumulative impact of regulatory change, the capacity for the industry to implement the changes and the commensurate increase in costs that may be passed on to consumers,” he said.

“That being said, we must also not give up on changes that would genuinely and transparently benefit the Australian public.”