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Wild weather triggers catastrophe declaration

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The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has extended a catastrophe declared for SA following wild weather last week to include areas of Victoria and Tasmania affected by the same storm system.

The severe weather brought large hail to parts of SA and severe winds in Victoria, triggering an influx of claims for damage to vehicles and property.

ICA says insurers have received almost 24,000 claims from SA policyholders, with the number expected to rise over coming days.

Victorian policyholders have lodged almost 12,000 claims, with most for home property damage, including from fallen trees, while around 100 claims have been received from Tasmania.

ICA says thousands of properties in Victoria have experienced power outages, and customers who have sustained extended power outages may also be able to claim for food spoilage.

The catastrophe declaration ensures claims from affected policyholders are prioritised and speeds disaster responses as the industry continues to battle cross-border restrictions and supply shortages due to the pandemic.

Insurers have anticipated the need to deploy up to 80 specialist assessment and recovery personnel to SA from interstate, including from Victoria and NSW.

“Thousands of claims have now been lodged by South Australian, Victorian, and Tasmanian policyholders,” CEO Andrew Hall said. “Unfortunately, ongoing supply chain and labour issues in the building sector may lead to delays in repairs and rebuilds."

In SA claims are mostly from areas including the Barossa Valley, Elizabeth, the Adelaide Hills, Salisbury, Craigmore and surrounds.

Motor vehicle claims represented two thirds of those lodged and crop losses from the Barossa Valley region are expected to be substantial.

The cold front and low-pressure system caused more damage as it moved into Victoria and intensified rapidly overnight, with parts of Melbourne experiencing the strongest October winds for a decade on Friday morning.

The Frankston, Ballarat, Whitehorse, Northcote and Broadmeadows State Emergency Service units were the busiest in responding to calls after trees toppled onto vehicles, homes and powerlines and cut off roads.