Suncorp receives 4,500 insurance claims as anxious Queensland and northern NSW home owners await rising flood waters

Suncorp says it has to date received 4,500 personal insurance claims as flood waters continue to rise in parts of Queensland and northern NSW from ex-tropical cyclone Oswald.

Queensland's largest personal insurer expects more claims to be lodged this week with around 5,000 homes, units and commercial properties at risk in Brisbane and Ipswich.

Suncorp says its immediate priority is assisting customers affected by the floods, which have to date claimed four lives and damaged hundreds of properties.

On Sunday the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) declared a catastrophe for large parts of Queensland affected by the cyclone and subsequent flooding, reporting there had been moderate to severe damage experienced in communities from the NSW border all the way north to Cairns.

The ICA says it expecting a “very wet summer this year while also hoping Queensland might avoid a repeat of 2011”.

The Bank of Queensland says it has established package of relief measures for impacted customers, including the ability to defer mortgage and loan repayments for a period.

The bank is also offering discounted interest rates on personal loans taken out for the purpose of purchasing replacement goods and has also set up a special Flood Hotline for customers with questions or those requiring urgent assistance.

ANZ, Westpac and the Commonwealth have all announced support measures for customers affected by the floods, including the ability to suspend loan payments for a period of time.

Residents in flood-at-risk areas have been reassured that this disaster will not be on a scale of those that struck in across Queensland two years ago, killing 35 people and leaving a $6 billion reconstruction task.

Brisbane Times reports that the Bremer River peaked in Ipswich at 14.9 metres about 9.30pm on Monday night, almost five metres below the 19.4 metre peak in 2011.

The Brisbane River is forecast to peak at 2.6 metres on the 11am tide, nearly half of the 4.46 metre peak in 2011 with a second flood peak likely at noon tomorrow.

The Brisbane City Council has provides a Brisbane River Flood Forecast by Suburb reports where homeowners can see if there home is likely to be affected by flood waters.

The City of Ipswich has compiled a list of properties potentially affected by flooding.

Flooding has put around 2,000 homes underwater in Bundaberg, where around 1,500 people have been airlifted to safety from fast-flowing flood waters.

On the Fraser Coast, the Maryborough River is at 10.7m and rising with Channel 7 reporting that 200 homes and 50 businesses are partially flooded.

The January 2011 south-east Queensland floods and northern Queensland cyclone one month later killed 35 people and affected more than 500,000 square kilometres of Queensland, including low-lying parts of Brisbane, Ipswich and the Lockyer Valley and up North, Cairns, Townsville Tully, and Innisfail.

The floods resulted in 58,463 claims totalling $2.4 billion, while cyclone Yasi resulted in 72,203 claims amounting to $1.33 billion.

Suncorp says it has made provisions for natural hazards and has an allowance of $520 million for events in the 2013 financial year.

For the six months to 31 December 2012, Suncorp’s total natural hazard claims were $147 million.

The insurer says it has a “comprehensive reinsurance program to limit the financial impact of natural hazard events.

The cyclone Oswald floods are the third catastrophe declared by the ICA in 2013, with insurers managing claims following severe bushfires in south-eastern Tasmania and northern New South Wales.

Since early 2010, the ICA has declared six catastrophes in Queensland for flooding and cyclone damage, with losses of almost $4 billion.

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer


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