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Victorian storm claim losses reach $144 million

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The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) says about 16,000 claims have been lodged following the Victorian storms, with losses estimated at $144 million as of the end of last week.

The wild weather caused severe flooding and generated severe wind gusts, particularly affecting parts of Gippsland and the Yarra Ranges local government area on Melbourne’s eastern fringe on June 9 and 10.

The rain and winds toppled a large number of trees in the Dandenongs, damaging homes and cars, cutting roads and leaving some residents still without power this week. Claims are expected to continue rising as some areas have remained inaccessible to assessors and insurers.

ICA has warned residents against disaster chasers that offer services such as tree and debris removal for upfront cash payments, but who may be unqualified or fraudulent.

“Unfortunately,  disaster chasers  can  emerge soon after a natural disaster and target householders who have been affected,” CEO Andrew Hall said. “They  can  leave families,  the  elderly and vulnerable  Australians much worse off, with large bills and homes that remain badly damaged.”

ICA  says disaster chasers should be reported to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, or to the police if they threaten, harass or intimidate.

Both Suncorp and IAG raised their guidance on full-year natural perils costs following the Victorian catastrophe.

IAG says its financial year net natural perils claims costs are estimated at $720-743 million compared to an allowance of $658 million and previous guidance of $660-700 million.

Net natural peril claims costs were about $660 million up to the end of May, including the net cost of Cyclone Seroja in April.

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

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.