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Claim numbers rising for Victoria storms catastrophe

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Claims totals are rising from severe weather that hit Victoria last week, with the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) on the weekend declaring the event a catastrophe.

The impact of the flooding has been most significant in Gippsland around Traralgon and in the Yarra Ranges local government area, but the ICA says the catastrophe declaration covers all claims related to the storms.

ICA says the number of claims has risen to 10,500 today, but it remains too early to estimate insurance losses. The numbers have increased from more than 6500 reported on Sunday when the catastrophe was declared.

“As many areas are currently inaccessible due to floodwater, insurers are expecting further claims in coming days as emergency services allow residents to return to their properties to examine the extent of their damage and losses,” CEO Andrew Hall said on the weekend.

Suncorp says it had received about 3750 claims as of Monday evening with the number expected to increase in coming days and weeks.

“Victorians have already been through a lot and we are moving as quickly and as safely as we can to help our customers and communities affected by this severe weather,” CEO Steve Johnston said today.

“Our customer support teams are on the ground in Traralgon providing face-to-face support to all our affected customers including AAMI, Apia and GIO, and we have scaled up our flexible claims team to manage the increase in claims and calls from customers.”

Suncorp, which had topped its full-year Australia and New Zealand natural allowance of $950 million by the end of last month, says it has a comprehensive reinsurance program in place and the maximum potential loss from the Victorian event is $50 million.

The group says its year-to-date costs reached $955 million as of May 31, putting it above the year-to-date allowance at that time of $915 million.

The strong winds, heavy rainfall and flooding hit in the middle of last week, leaving about 25,000 people still without power yesterday.

Electricity network company AusNet Services says some 750 customers should prepare to be without power until Sunday in Melbourne’s outer-eastern region including Croydon, Lilydale, Montrose, Mooroolbark, Mount Evelyn, Upwey and Wandin East.

“Our field crew are working as safety and as quickly as possible in challenging conditions,” it said on Twitter this afternoon. “We have back-up from interstate crews to help us with the rebuilding efforts.”

IAG EGM Direct Claims Luke Gallagher says the group has received about 3500 claims, predominantly for property damage.

“Our teams are contacting customers in the severely impacted areas to check their safety and offer emergency financial assistance and temporary accommodation,” he told insuranceNEWS.com.au.

“Our assessors and builders are also on the ground ensuring properties are safe and secure, and looking at the repairs to homes that will be required.”

Mr Gallagher says IAG customers are encouraged to contact the insurer as soon as possible to lodge claims, so they can be provided with immediate support.