ICA declares catastrophe for huge NSW bushfires

November 11 2019 by InsuranceAsia News Staff

Australia’s latest round of bushfires in the state of New South Wales (NSW) has been declared a catastrophe by the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA).

The blaze is spread across over 1,000km of NSW’s mid-north coast. NSW’s rural fire service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said fire conditions would remain serious over the next week and following summer months.

As of November 10, thousands have been evacuated, with three people dead and four missing; at least 150 homes have been destroyed meaning another large claims payout for the market.

In an official statement, Karl Sullivan, ICA’s head of risk and operations commented: “The catastrophe declaration means claims from these bushfires will be prioritised by all insurers and they will be focusing on reducing the immense emotional and financial stress experienced by residents and businesses.”

Sullivan noted that insurers are already preparing their disaster response by mobilising assessors and claims specialist teams, adding: “Insurers will be poised to move into these communities once emergency services declare it is safe to do so.”

There are also serious bushfires in Queensland with 51 bushfires burning across the state.

NSW has been Australia’s most impacted state in a severe bushfire season. Last month, the ICA declared a catastrophe for bushfires in NSW’s Rappville community where fires destroyed over 115,000 hectares. Australia’s insurers have already seen 250 claims amounting to US$13.6 million for this bushfire season.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology has highlighted the country is at high risk of longer and more intense bushfire seasons, as a result of climate change’s contribution to extreme heat events in the country. 2018 and 2017 were Australia’s third and fourth hottest years on record.

Temperatures are set to soar in Sydney this week with an elevated fire threat.

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