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Hailstorms drive up Suncorp peril costs

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Suncorp has estimated financial year-to-date natural hazard costs at $382-492 million following hailstorms last week and wild October weather that has driven up the preliminary total.

CEO Steve Johnston says five declared storm events have affected eastern Australia this month, including Coffs Harbour hail that could cost $70-$100 million, making it the insurer’s most expensive event since June.

The insurer says it’s too early to state the ultimate impact of recent storms, with the preliminary estimates based on lodgement patterns and historical average claims costs.

“Our customer support team is on the ground in Coffs Harbour to support our customers affected by the hail event,” Mr Johnston said today. “Our national footprint means we have been able to respond quickly to this event and ensure our customers get back on their feet as quickly as possible.”

Suncorp at the full-year results said it had increased its natural hazard allowance to $980 million for this financial year, divided equally between the first and second halves.

Hail also hit Thirlmere NSW on the weekend and could cost $10-30 million while Queensland storms last week have led to estimated costs of $15-25 million.

Claims from an eastern Australia complex low from October 13-16 are estimated at $45-65 million and earlier storms from September 23-October 1 will likely contribute $20-30 million.

Insurers have lobbied National Cabinet for measures to facilitate the movement of personnel amid COVID-19 restrictions as recent storms have highlighted risks, and with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting a 70% chance of a La Nina event, which is associated with wet weather.

“We will continue to work with governments to ensure we can get tradespeople and assessors on the ground and across borders as necessary,” Mr Johnston said.

The Victorian earthquake in September has emerged as the second costliest event for Suncorp for the financial year so far, with costs estimated at $50-70 million.

Earlier events include a WA cold front costing $14 million, a SA low in July costing $10 million and eastern states winter winds in late August costing $10 million.

The total has also been boosted by severe weather in New Zealand, where heavy rain in July had a $31 million impact while a North Island storm at the end of August has cost $13 million.

Natural hazard attritional claims, where events are below $5 million, have totalled $94 million.

The year-to-date estimates exclude any associated risk margin or claims handling expenses.

Natural hazard costs last financial year reached $1.01 billion, topping a $950 million allowance and rising from $820 million in the previous 12 months.

The insurer says it has a comprehensive reinsurance program in place for major events and full limits remain available on all of the group’s reinsurance covers.