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Bushfire, hailstorm losses top $2 billion

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Insured losses from bushfires and hailstorms since November have reached $2.16 billion as more claims from the events are lodged.

Bushfire losses for the event declared on November 8 total $1.65 billion from 20,000 claims, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) says in its latest update.

Losses from the hailstorm which earlier this week hit the ACT, NSW and Victoria have risen to $514 million from 55,650 claims.

Fires flared again in NSW and the ACT yesterday as hot, windy conditions increased the threat ahead of a southerly change that brought light rain and cooler conditions.

The bushfire catastrophe covers 183 postcodes across Queensland, NSW, Victoria and SA. Within the physical footprint of the bushfires, the median building sum insured is $343,241 and the median premium paid is $843 plus taxes, ICA says.

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has launched a support hotline (1800 337 444) to ensure priority services are available for those affected by the fires

COO Justin Untersteinder says AFCA can help resolve financial complaints quickly, and has encouraged people to think twice before signing contracts with private claims management companies.

“While not illegal, AFCA is concerned that people are being charged excessive costs and/or a percentage of the sum recovered, when in reality the service provided is of no real benefit to the person,” he said.

“Our service is completely free to use and legally binding on financial firms.”

Insurers continue to finalise claims from the Townsville flood of a year ago, when torrential rainfall fell on the region in the last week of January and first week of February.

ICA says it will host an Insurance Hub in Townsville on February 1 to assist residents with any outstanding claims. Some 30,702 claims were lodged from that event, with a loss value of $1.269 billion.