Insurers to Meet Australian Government as Bush Fires Rage

Insurance leaders in Australia are to meet with the country’s Prime Minister tomorrow to discuss the industry’s role in the efforts to mitigate the impact of the bushfires that have devastated large areas of the country.

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) and insurance industry leaders are due to meet Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in Canberra to brief them on bushfire recovery efforts as fears grow over the scale of the crisis.

Mr Morrison has warned that despite some rain over the weekend the catastrophe shows no signs of abating and warned the country there was no short term solution.

“The crisis is not over,” he said. “There are months to go.”

Fires continue across the country with at least 24 people having died and over half a billion animals killed by the blazes. The Australian capital Canberra, now has the most polluted air over any major city in the planet with businesses closing their doors as the air quality continues to deteriorate.

Insurance Council of Australia CEO Rob Whelan said: “The ICA will reassure the government that insurers have been and will continue to focus on helping customers who have been affected by this year’s devastating bushfires.

“The industry is well resourced to carry out repair and rebuilding work in partnership and collaboration with the community, governments and regulators, the building and construction sector and suppliers.

“Insurers will discuss all aspects of recovery, from assessments and property clean-up to rebuilding. They will also offer their expertise in assisting all levels of government with developing a national response.”

He added insurance companies and their staff are working around the clock to help communities, householders and business owners affected by catastrophic bushfires in four states.

Since September 5, insurers have handled more than 6000 insurance claims from bushfire regions of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria. Insurance losses are estimated at $431 million this bushfire season.

“For the past four months, insurers have been working with bushfire-affected householders, business owners and communities to help them recover and rebuild their lives,” Mr Whelan said. “Australia is in the midst of a bushfire crisis, and insurers are helping their customers at a time of immense financial, physical and emotional stress.

“Emergency response teams are helping customers process claims and access emergency assistance in dozens of local communities. This past weekend alone more than 60 staff attended the evacuation centre in Melbourne to talk to evacuees about their needs.

“Insurers have booked hundreds of hotel and motel rooms and are providing emergency accommodation and financial assistance to many customers.  

“And assessors have been mobilised from all over Australia and New Zealand to help examine properties in fire-affected regions as soon as it’s safe to enter them.

“Work has already begun to rebuild properties affected by bushfires at the beginning of this season and insurers will continue to prioritise these claims to assist these customers as soon as possible.

“Due to the large number of disasters that Australia has experienced over recent years, insurers have developed extensive expertise in helping communities recover from natural disasters. All claims are being prioritised.”