Queensland Cyclone

Queensland cyclone victims lodge more than 5000 claims

SOURCE: insuranceNEWS.com.au

Cyclone Marcia in Queensland has so far prompted more than 5000 claims from car and property-owners, according to the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) today.

By 1pm, ICA had estimated reserved losses at $33 million.

The Category 5 storm mainly hit the coastal towns of Yeppoon and Rockhampton on Friday, causing floods and cutting power and water supplies.

About 90% of claims are for property damage caused by heavy rain and high winds. When Marcia hit Yeppoon its winds reached 285kmh, according to media reports.

“I am 61 and I have never seen anything like this here,” Peter Peirano from Piranha Insurance Brokers in Rockhampton told insuranceNEWS.com.au.

“We don’t get many cyclones in Rocky… you have to go back to the 1940s for the last one.”

Mr Peirano has begun processing “more than 100 claims”, mainly from businesses.

“Rolladoors have blown out everywhere,” he said.

Mr Peirano had to get an electricity generator sent from Townsville to reopen his brokerage and process claims.

Many claims are for homes built before cyclone-proof building regulations took effect in 1985. “Most damage to houses has been done by trees.”

Suncorp has received 1500 claims, with more than 90% for home damage, spokesman Joshua Cooney says. “Our initial assessment is a combination of destructive winds, fallen trees, flying debris and flooding have caused the majority of damage to homes and motor vehicles in affected areas.

“We’ll be deploying a team of our most experienced insurance assessors once authorities give us the all-clear.”

Some customers require emergency safety works to secure their homes and prevent further damage.

“Based on requests made, we have already allocated more than 250 make-safe works in the Yeppoon-Rockhampton area alone,” Mr Cooney said.

IAG says it received 700 claims by Sunday afternoon and 90% relate to damage in Queensland and northern NSW.

In the Rockhampton area it has deployed two “major event rapid-response vehicles” to speed claims processing.

“We anticipate claim numbers will increase as people return to their homes and businesses, and we will provide an estimate of the financial impact as soon as we are in a position to do so,” IAG MD and CEO Mike Wilkins said.

IAG renewed its property catastrophe reinsurance protections in January, and its current maximum event retention is $250 million. Its natural peril allowance for the year to June 30 is $700 million.

ICA declared a catastrophe on Friday for parts of central Queensland affected by TC Marcia, and has staff in Yeppoon and Rockhampton working with emergency services and government agencies.

CEO Rob Whelan says insurers will prioritise all claims from the cyclone.

State Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says damage is widespread, with the worst-affected areas of Rockhampton and Yeppoon still without power today.

The State Government has received assessments of more than 1500 houses with some kind of structural damage. In Yeppoon and Rockhampton about 100 were severely hit, with residents unable to return home.

ICA data shows Cyclone Ita, which hit less densely populated areas of north Queensland last year, cost $8.4 million. Cyclone Larry, which struck Innisfail in 2006, cost $609 million, while Cyclone Yasi in 2011 cost $1.4 billion.

Nikki Chambers, Hazard Scientist at risk modeller RMS, says winds of 180kmh caused significant damage in Yeppoon and Rockhampton. “Marcia is reported to be the southernmost landfalling Category 5 cyclone on the east coast on record.”

Meanwhile, Cyclone Lam, which hit Elcho Island off the NT coast on Friday, damaged homes with winds of about 230kmh. Power was cut to the Aboriginal community of 2000 people.

John Lewis from AIB Insurance Brokers – based in Maroochydore but with an extensive client base in the Northern Territory – told insuranceNEWS.com.au no claims have been received so far following Lam, a category 4 cyclone.

Higher Excess can mean Lower Premiums. Not always a good move

Most insurers will allow you to increase your excess to reduce your premium. Why? Because when you increase your excess it shifts some risk from the insurer back to you. It represents a saving for insurers, as they no longer have to pay out numerous small claims.

Often people see a higher excess as one of the most effective ways to save on insurance costs but it may not be the wisest option. The reality is that when you do make a claim, you will have to pay more towards it. And in the event of multiple claims, the total can skyrocket.

Consider this scenario: Jordan and Annabelle opted to increase their excesses to reduce their premiums last year. They had 2 cars comprehensively insured through ABC Insurance as well as their home and contents. For the cars, the standard excess was $600 but they opted to increase it to $1000. In addition, they increased their home and contents standard excess of $250 to $1250. The total premium saving for the year was $670. That’s great news! Or is it?

A serious hailstorm came along that hit their home and both their cars. Claims lodged for both vehicles and home were met with an excess bill of $3250. If they had retained the standard excesses they would only have to contribute $1450. So the premium saving of $670 left them out of pocket by $1800 at claim time.

Choose a level of excess you can afford and take the time to review your insurance schedule and policy wordings to see if you can bear the costs of excess contribution. Also, be aware that some insurers have different types of excesses that may apply in different situations or apply concurrently. Contact your insurance broker if you have any doubts or questions.

The Drift

MP Michelle Landry’s Speech to Raise Awareness for Prostate Cancer

Ms LANDRY (Capricornia) (09:51):  Today I urge all men in Australia to give their walnut-sized prostate a name and take him to the doctor for a health check. This is a novel concept that I launched in my electorate of Capricornia. The aim is to raise the profile of prostate cancer, which kills more men than breast cancer does women. The idea is to kick-start a conversation amongst Australian men to crack open what is a taboo topic. I will explain more about this radical idea shortly.

But, firstly, the reason I raise the topic is because I am pleased that the Australian government is now funding the services of a new specialist prostate cancer nurse for the Rockhampton region. Nurse Judy Cornick will work with patients at Rockhampton base hospital. The new position will help to ease the confusion and fear associated with being diagnosed with prostate cancer.

The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia reports that nine men a day, or 3,300 a year, die in Australia from prostate cancer, while 20,000 men a year are diagnosed, making it one of the biggest causes of male deaths in the nation.

The prostate is about the size of a walnut and is located immediately below the bladder. As I said earlier, if you are a bloke, I challenge you to name your ‘walnut’. Give yours a name, get it out and get it checked. If every bloke took his Walter, Wilbur or Wally to the doctor for a PSA or a blood check-up, they might be able to identify signs of life-threatening prostate cancer a lot sooner.

Rockhampton insurance agent Peter Peirano is a prostate cancer survivor who named his walnut ‘Old Bitey’. Recently, Peter joined me to welcome Nurse Cornick at Rockhampton base hospital and bravely spoke about his experience to the media. A week or two later, a man stopped Peter at the Rockhampton airport and thanked him. He had read Peter’s story in the local newspaper and had taken his walnut to the doctor for a health check. His medical tests came back positive, and the man was waiting for his flight to Brisbane for immediate treatment.

To generate more conversation about this topic, I challenge every male MP and senator in Parliament House to name their walnut. Christening your Walter or Wally may kick-start a conversation that could well save your life—something for which all your family will be grateful.