Flooded businesses file average insurance claim of $71,000, peak body says, as insured losses grow to $5.1 billion

floods insurance Climate

Thousands of business owners in northern NSW faced a brutal clean up in the aftermath of the floods. Source: AAP Image/Jason O'Brien

The devastating floods which afflicted northern New South Wales and southeast Queensland in February and March this year have officially become the second-costliest weather event in Australian insurance history, surpassing the damage bill accrued by Cyclone Tracy in 1974.

On Friday, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) revealed insured losses linked to the flooding have surpassed $5.1 billion, with those damages sitting only behind those caused by major Sydney hailstorm in 1999. 

The average personal claim is for $17,000, but commercial claimants — including small businesses ravaged by floodwaters — are claiming an average of $71,000, the peak body said.

230,000 individual claims have been made to date, and 36% are now deemed “finalised and closed”, the ICA said.

The figures provide new detail to the harrowing physical and financial toll of the flooding, which left countless businesses out of commission in the weeks and months after floodwaters subsided.

To date, roughly 40% of all claims have been paid to insurance customers, representing $2 billion in payments thus far.

Repair efforts and the tide of insurance payouts have been hampered by labour shortages, says Andrew Hall, ICA CEO.

“Insurers continue to employ more people and contractors to resolve claims for impacted customers, however delays are being experienced because of a shortage of experts needed to make assessments and significant constraints on builders and building materials,” he said.

State government schemes designed to entice tradespeople from interstate have reportedly fallen short of expectations.

Almost 60% of houses and commercial businesses impacted by the flooding in southeast Queensland still show signs of damage, Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles said Wednesday.

“There are still many properties where work is still needed with more than 1300 assessed as still having severe levels of damage, more than 1900 with moderate damage and more than 1900 with minor levels of damage,” Miles said.

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