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Insurers brace for claims in Qld, NSW after Oswald leaves ‘catastrophic’ damage in its wake

Published 28 January 2013 10:16, Updated 29 January 2013 10:30

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Insurers brace for claims in Qld, NSW after Oswald leaves ‘catastrophic’ damage in its wake

A car overturned by the fierce winds that accompanied heavy rain and flooding in Queensland over the Australia Day weekend. Photo: TEN

Insurers are preparing for a busy week as households and business owners survey the damage caused by ex-tropical Cyclone Oswald, which ripped through Queensland and Northern New South Wales over the Australia Day long weekend.

It is too early to estimate the cost of losses, but insurance companies had received several thousand claims by noon on Sunday, with more expected to come in, the Insurance Council of Australia chief executive Rob Whelan said.

The group declared large parts of Queensland to be ‘catastrophic’, with moderate to severe damage experienced from the NSW border to Cairns. The Wide Bay region, north of the Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, was especially hard hit. About 150 properties were severely damaged.

The head of personal insurance claims at Suncorp Insurance, Geoff Keogh, said additional staff had been added to its Queensland call centres.

“Thankfully, there has been a minimal amount of large losses, but it is important to remember that this storm cell is expected to continue over the coming days,” Mr Keogh said in a statement.

The Brisbane City Council has released flood maps, which show that 3600 residential properties and 1250 business properties in the state capital are expected to be affected by rising waters. Peak flooding is expected to occur between 10am Tuesday and midday Wednesday. A further 50 homes in the Ipswich suburb of Goodna are also expected to experience flooding.

The Bureau of Meteorology expects rain and wind to ease in most areas from Tuesday as the low-pressure system tracks eastwards, but dangerous surf in NSW will continue into Wednesday.

This is the third catastrophe declared by the ICA in 2013, with insurers managing claims following severe bushfires in south-eastern Tasmania and northern NSW. Since early 2010, the ICA has declared six catastrophes in Queensland for flooding and cyclone damage, with losses of almost $4 billion.

The story first appeared on The Australian Financial Review.

with AAP