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Bushfires: insurers face $100 million losses so far

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Insured losses from the bushfire catastrophe in NSW and Queensland have climbed to $100 million from 900 claims, according to the latest update today from the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA).

The figures are expected to rise further as firefighters continue battling to contain several blazes burning in the two states.

Combined with the three other ICA-declared fire catastrophes in recent months, the industry is facing at least $176.9 million in losses.

A spokesman for IAG says the insurer has received about 402 claims as of today, including 33 from Queensland. The majority of the claims are for property damage in NSW.

“Our assessors are on the ground, and where possible they will enter the impacted areas over the weekend to commence assessments,” the spokesman told insuranceNEWS.com.au.

Parts of NSW still face a “very high” fire danger outlook. These include the regions of Central Ranges, North Western, New England, the Southern Ranges and Northern Slopes.

Dozens of fires are currently active, including an out-of-control blaze in the Wollemi National Park north of the Blue Mountains. An emergency warning for the fire has been issued, meaning residents must leave the area immediately.

The NSW Rural Fire Service says 259 homes and 480 outbuildings are confirmed destroyed and another 87 properties damaged.

In Queensland, a number of fires are at either watch-and-act or advice levels amid warnings weather conditions are likely to deteriorate during the weekend.

The Bureau of Meteorology in an update this afternoon says a very warm air mass moving through WA and NT will extend to the east coast by early next week.

“Elevated fire dangers remain over NSW and Queensland into next week,” the bureau says.

The latest bushfire catastrophe has re-ignited the debate over climate change in Australia. Scientists have long warned the country faces the threat of more severe bushfires as global warming takes hold, but the Coalition Government, which holds crucial electorates where coal production is important, has been reluctant to address the issue.

A group of mayors today issued a joint statement urging the Federal Government to “honestly and bravely” face up to the challenge of climate change and its consequences.

“Now is the time for leadership, and keeping all Australians safe,” the mayors say. “We need the Government to acknowledge the link between climate change and bushfire.

“Climate change has grave costs for our communities that can no longer be ignored.”