One-fifth of Victoria bushfire victims lack cover

One-fifth of Victoria bushfire victims lack cover

13 February 2009

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Australia — One in five victims of the Victorian bushfires may not have had insurance, the industry estimates.

Insurance Council chief executive Kerrie Kelly said research showed more than one fifth of all households did not have home or contents cover. “Regrettably some people and some businesses will have no insurance at all, based on the work we have done on non-insurance in 2007,” she said.

A study for the Insurance Council in May 2007 found that 23 per cent of Australia’s households did not have a building or contents insurance policy.

The news comes as insurance groups are ready to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars to victims, with thousands of claims already received and more expected to roll in over coming days.

Suncorp Metway yesterday announced it expected the combined cost of claims related to Victoria’s bushfires and Queensland’s floods to be about $180 million, but said it was too early to provide more accurate numbers.

Latest figures showed the group had received 1250 claims for the Victorian fires from AAMI, GIO and Apia home and contents policy holders, with a further 1000 claims resulting from the Queensland floods.

The fires are expected to have caused total damage of more than $2 billion and insurance losses of more than $500 million.

Ms Kelly said 4100 insurance claims had been lodged so far for the Black Saturday bushfires.

“The process has barely started because the residents haven’t been able to get back to their properties,” she said.

It would be some months before all claims were lodged.

Ms Kelly said the Insurance Council had been pushing for a stronger building code. “We are greatly saddened that the Victorian bushfires have demonstrated that the building and planning codes are just not adequate,” she said.

“Since April last year we have been discussing at federal and state government level and also with the building codes board, saying these are serious issues that need to be properly investigated.”

Ms Kelly said there needed to be a “much greater focus” on the environment people lived in, “the nature of the buildings that we live in, the building materials that are used”.

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