$2 billion bill: insurers count cost of summer catastrophes

Combined insured losses from the Sydney hailstorm and devastating floods in north Queensland are closing in on the $2 billion mark in what has been an expensive summer for insurers. The industry has received about $1.93 billion for claims arising from the two catastrophes, according to the Insurance Council of Australia. The northern Queensland monsoonal flood bill stands at $893 million as at the end of last month, and covers damage between January 24 and February 10 in 79 postcodes. About 91% of the 22,204 claims lodged came from domestic policyholders, who have received $661 million in payouts from the industry, and the remaining $223 million went to commercial clients. Insurers have denied 39 claims, the council says but it did not specify if they were commercial or domestic. Overall, 19,355 claims are still open, 76 have been referred to internal dispute resolution panels and four are in the hands of external dispute resolution overseers. Losses from December’s Sydney hailstorm have run up to $1.04 billion as of February 14. It was the worst recorded hailstorm outside the US last year, and IAG and Suncorp have blamed the hazard for the drop in their December half earnings. About 93% of the 118,886 claims lodged came from non-commercial policyholders. The majority of the claims are for motor vehicle damage although there was significant property damage as well. 

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