We’re ready to help bushfire victims: insurers

We’re ready to help bushfire victims: insurers

9 February 2009

published by www.abc.net.au

Australia — The Insurance Council of Australia says a task force has been established to speed up the claims and assessment process for properties lost or damaged in the Victorian bushfires.

The Insurance Council says it could be up to two days before there is an estimated cost for the damage.

Spokesman Paul Giles says people who cannot get back to their properties, or are not able to find their policy details should not panic.

“Once people do get back, or they know they’re going to be putting an insurance claim in, call your insurance company and talk about putting a claim in and get the assessment process under way,” he said.

The ABC has fielded calls from many people concerned because their only identification was lost along with their homes.

“Now if people have lost their documentation, which a lot of people would have of course due to the actual size and devastation of these fires, that’s not a problem,” Mr Giles said.

“Just ring your insurer, have your address and of course your name and they’ll be able to look up your details and get the ball rolling.”

The Council says insurers have call centres operating, and assessors will be on the ground as access to affected areas is opened.

However, it says many of the Victorian communities affected by the bushfires may face substantial scrutiny before houses are rebuilt in those areas.

The council’s chief executive, Kerrie Kelly, told the ABC’s Midday Report the burnt-out areas will need to be examined very closely to establish whether residential housing can or should be rebuilt.

“The rebuilding is going to be an issue,” she said.

“[In] a lot of places there’s no electricity, no water.

“Basic services are going to have to be in place first, before rebuilding can be looked at.

“We’ve also got the issue of whether the same types of properties should be built up again in those same areas, so I think there’s a lot of matters to be worked through yet before properties can be got[ten] back up.”

Meanwhile, the Law Institute of Victoria is offering free legal advice to people affected by the bushfire crisis.

The scheme began operating in Gippsland last week and is being extended across the state through local country law associations.

The Institute says staff can offer half an hour of free advice about things such as contracts, loans, mortgages, employment or wills.

In total the fires have killed 108 people and destroyed 750 homes. The toll is expected to rise.

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