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.