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Debbie insurance response ‘fastest on record’

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Insurers have paid out more than 85% of claims for Cyclone Debbie at a cost of $1 billion, according to Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) figures.

CEO Rob Whelan says the industry has paid about $355 million in repairs and services in the past six weeks alone, making the industry’s response to claimants the fastest on record.

“The closure rate for Cyclone Debbie is running at least 15% ahead of any previous natural disaster,” he said.

“Insurers are injecting $11.8 million each working day into affected communities stretching from the Whitsundays through to southern NSW.”

He says claimants in the worst-hit areas, including the Whitsundays, may have more complex scopes of works to define and complete and insurers have responded by employing teams of local tradespeople as well as large building firms to help accelerate the process.

Insurance losses for Debbie have now reached $1.565 billion from 72,767 claims making it the second most expensive cyclone in Australian history after 1974’s Cyclone Tracy ($4.1 billion in 2017 dollars).

Since mid-September an additional 3919 household and business claims related to Cyclone Debbie have been lodged, at a cost of $89 million.

ICA and its member companies have organised or participated in more than 250 one-on-one meetings, briefings and forums to hear customer concerns and address issues, and insurers were still trying to resolve “a small number of contentious claims”.