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Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance

NSW bushfires update: insurers expect claims in rush

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The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) says the NSW bushfire catastrophe has run up at least $40 million in insured losses, but the figure will rise in coming days as more claims are submitted.

About 360 claims, including 80 for suspected total losses from the centre of the disaster on NSW’s mid-north coast, had been lodged by this afternoon, ICA says.

A spokesman for IAG told insuranceNEWS.com.au this afternoon the company has so far received about 172 claims from affected policyholders in NSW and 10 from customers in Queensland, which is also battling a severe outbreak of bushfires.

IAG says its assessors are on standby and waiting for emergency officials to give clearance for them to enter the affected areas.

A Suncorp spokesman says it’s too early to assess the total impacts on its customers, but the days ahead will be challenging for everyone.

Updated fire danger warnings issued this afternoon are: A “catastrophic” fire danger remains in place in Greater Sydney, Greater Hunter, and Illawarra/Shoalhaven.

An “extreme” fire danger is set for the North Coast, Southern Ranges, Central Ranges, New England, Northern Slopes, and North Western NSW.

“Severe” fire danger exists for the Far North Coast, the Far South Coast, and Monaro Alpine, and “very high” fire danger for the Upper Central West Plains, Lower Central West Plains and Southern Slopes.

In multiple media updates provided since this morning, NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons warned conditions are continuing to worsen.

“We are seeing right across different parts of the state extreme fire danger ratings being reached, particularly through the Hunter area,” he said.

“As we indicated earlier today, this will only worsen throughout the afternoon as the weather conditions continue to deteriorate and those strong winds strengthen and become more consistent across the afternoon."

There are currently 78 fires burning, including 47 that fire-fighters have failed to contain, he says.

“We are going to have a long night ahead of us. Firefighters and affected communities are going to have a really long night ahead of them. Those strong winds are not going to get to [the] northern areas of NSW until midnight or the early hours of [the] morning across some of these fire grounds and unfortunately there’s no meaningful reprieve.

“There’s no rainfall in this change.”