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Halloween hailstorm claims almost 90% resolved

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Claims triggered by Halloween hailstorms that caused $1.08 billion in losses last year are almost 90% resolved as insurers continue to receive new claims leading into the anniversary of the event on Sunday.

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) says more than 44,000 claims for storm and hail damage from the October 31 extreme weather in Queensland have been lodged, with about 1000 submitted in the past eight weeks.

Insurers have made significant progress over the past two months and expect to finalise many of the remaining claims in coming weeks, ICA says.

The process has been slowed by a shortage of builders, roofers and trades people, shortages of timber, roof tiles and other essential building materials and COVID-19 border restrictions.

ICA says the industry typically mobilises up to 500 staff after a natural disaster to support recovery efforts, and warns it will still face constraints deploying staff into Queensland if a disaster of the scale of the Halloween hailstorm hits before the state’s borders open on December 17.

“Insurers have been working hard to catch up on claims processing and it’s pleasing that we’re now at a closure rate of almost 90%,” CEO Andrew Hall said.

“However, the Bureau of Meteorology has said widespread flooding, coastal flooding and erosion, tropical cyclones, and marine heatwaves are all more likely over coming months.”

The Halloween hailstorm claims, which are 88% resolved, include 17,500 private and commercial motor vehicle claims and 20,660 home building claims for damage to roofs, solar panels, guttering, walls and internal water damage.

Insurers also received 4500 home contents claims and 1400 commercial property and crop claims.

Over the past 12 months ICA has hosted three community events to provide guidance and assistance to local policyholders via hundreds of in-person consultations.

ICA has called on state and federal governments to urgently agree to a nationally consistent approach to the movement of fully vaccinated insurance disaster responders across state borders amid a high risk of natural catastrophes in the next couple of months.

Eastern Australia has been hit by a number of storms this month as the disaster season begins, while the Bureau of Meteorology has issued a La Nina alert, indicating a 70% chance that the climate system associated with wet weather and flooding will form again this season.