Insurers have hit back at claims they're abandoning customers impacted by flooding, while refusing to admit which postcodes are embargoed from insurance.
Claims to IAG (whose brands include NRMA Insurance, CGU and WFI) by NSW residents so far this year, have jumped by 145 per cent to 29,356 claims. This is up from 11,959 at the same time last year.
Allianz said the number of weather related home insurance claims have spiked by 160 per cent in Queensland for 2022 compared to 2021. In the ACT claims have jumped by 103 per cent, in NSW they're up 87 per cent and in the Northern Territory there's a 33 per cent increase.
In NSW, insurers estimate $5.5 billion in claims have been lodged this year.
Postcodes in regional and rural Australia are being denied new policies as the flood disaster continues, but IAG, Allianz and Suncorp have refused to say which locations are included.
Forbes Shire Council mayor Phyllis Miller accused insurers of applying blanket bans on flood policies for the entire town, and claimed some people with existing policies had received letters saying they will not be renewed.
"There's a moratorium on giving flood insurance to anyone [in the Forbes postcode]," she told the ABC.
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An Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) spokesperson said during disasters such as floods, insurers may place a temporary embargo on new policies until the threat from the disaster had passed, to avoid an influx of new claims.
Embargoes do not impact people who already have insurance, Suncorp Group said.
And, there were exceptions for existing customers in certain circumstances, such as when they were buying a home.
"Our priority is helping our customers impacted by flooding as they begin the recovery process. We continue to offer renewing customers flood insurance, which comes as a standard inclusion in all our home insurance policies," Suncorp's spokesperson said.
An Allianz Australia spokesperson said embargoes are for "fairness to all of our customers who may have held policies for a longer period of time".
"We aim to lift these as soon as there is no longer an imminent threat," they said.
We aim to lift these [embargoes] as soon as there is no longer an imminent threat.- Allianz Australia spokesperson
A statement issued by IAG said "customers can continue to take out a new insurance policy, however, they will not be covered for the specific risk covered by the embargo until it is lifted or for the period specified".
Cabonne Council (in the NSW Central West) and Campaspe Shire Council (where floods have left Echuca and other areas in Victoria devastated) did not respond to ACM's request for comments on insurance difficulties for residents in their LGAs.
Insurance claims skyrocket amid flood disaster
Home insurance claims from IAG customers also spiked in Queensland (up 838 per cent) from 945 to 8872. While, in Victoria, they've fallen dramatically (down 82 per cent), from 17,674 to 3101.
IAG executive general manager direct claims, Luke Gallagher, said all data provided to ACM is based on ICA's declared significant events or catastrophes.
"We encourage impacted customers to contact us ASAP so we can provide immediate support such as emergency temporary accommodation. Even if our customers don't have a copy of their insurance policy with them, our claims teams will be able to assist," he said.
"We do not require a full documented list of damaged items, because we believe in making the claim process simple. Just take images of any damaged contents and immediately dispose items that pose a health risk. We also ask customers to speak to their insurer before authorizing any repairs or work."
Allianz said there's been a 38 per cent increase in weather-related home building and contents claims in Australia during 2022, compared to 2021, but not all states and territories had increased numbers.
In Victoria claims are down by 30 per cent and in South Australia they've fallen 21 per cent, but recent weather events are expected to shift those figures.
In Western Australia there's been a 40 per cent decrease in claims to Allianz, however a spokesperson said, "this is unsurprisingly, given the significant volume of claims associated with Cyclone Seroja in 2021".
Suncorp declined to provide insurance claims data ahead of the release of its annual storm hotspots campaign later this month.
Disaster zone help
The Australian and Victorian governments have invested more than $1.7 billion in flood support programs, a statement from Victorian emergency services minister Jaclyn Symes said.
This includes emergency relief payments and accommodation, support to businesses, roads, the agriculture sector, kinders, education, sporting organisations, health and mental health support.
"We know a lot of people are doing it tough during what is an incredibly anxious and distressing time - that's why we've made urgent support available, including providing accommodation through the Centre for National Resilience at Mickleham and the temporary village at Elmore," she said.
We know a lot of people are doing it tough during what is an incredibly anxious and distressing time.- Victorian Minister for Emergency Services Jaclyn Symes
"We've delivered initial relief across the state including emergency relief payments and accommodation, as well as support to businesses, the agriculture sector, kinders, education, health and mental health support."
NSW emergency services and resilience minister Steph Cooke declined to provide information on the damage bill for the state, but said more than 70 local government areas had been declared disaster zones for the most recent weather event.
"We are still in the emergency phase of the response efforts, however property damage assessments have commenced in some communities where it's safe to do so," she said.
"Resupply of isolated communities is also occurring. Currently we are focused on taking care of people's immediate needs and ensuring support is available."
- For help in NSW visit nsw.gov.au/floods or call Service NSW on 13 77 88.
- For help in Victoria visit vic.gov.au/2022-flood-recovery or call 1800 560 760.