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ICA seeks border action as disaster season looms

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Australia’s governments need to put arrangements in place ahead of summer to allow the insurance sector to respond to natural disasters around the country, with current border restrictions hindering movement, the industry has warned.

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has called on National Cabinet to facilitate processes to allow the movement of claims assessors, disaster recovery specialists, builders and tradies in a COVID-safe way between and within states and territories.

CEO Andrew Hall says agreements reached last year have not remained in place for the current round of border restrictions triggered by the Delta variant.

“The worst-case scenario would be for an event to happen and then we spend weeks and weeks trying to work out whether people can travel in to help those communities,” he told ABC Radio Canberra.

The National Insurance Brokers Association (NIBA) says it strongly supports ICA’s call for a national approach that would lessen restriction impacts, with brokers among those facing challenges being on the ground and supporting clients.

“Insurance brokers are essential in helping their clients navigate preparations for, and recovery from, natural disasters and major weather events,” CEO Dallas Booth said.

“They are on the front line and have seen first-hand the challenges presented by state border restrictions, as they help their clients navigate the recovery from natural disasters.”

ICA included the call for action on borders in an Insurance Catastrophe Resilience Report released last week, which highlighted the industry’s role in responding to disasters.

Other actions sought include improvements in disaster waste and debris clean-up, more investment in resilience, particularly at a state level, improved building quality and standards, better land use planning and the removal of state taxes on insurance.

National Cabinet is due to meet next on Friday.