CANBERRA, AAP – Insurance claims from the ongoing flood disaster have topped $1.6 billion, and “claims farmers” are scouting for lucrative fees from victims.
Some 107,844 claims have been made so far in South East Queensland and New South Wales, the Insurance Council of Australia said on Wednesday.
Based on previous flood events the estimated current cost of claims is now $1.62 billion.
Queensland Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman has warned flood victims to beware of claims management agents, some pretending to be from the government, offering help insurance paperwork.
“Many of these claims farmers entice customers to use their services by offering a free inspection, promising your claim will go to the front of the queue or promising a guaranteed cash settlement,” she said.
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Insurance Council CEO Andrew Hall said floods have cost Australia $20 billion since the 1970s, and the current disaster will be one of the most significant and expensive events.
“We have to think about mitigation, dams, levees, raising homes above the maximum flood level,” Mr Hall said.
“We’re headed for a very big insurance bill for this event, so we’re monitoring it carefully.”
When signing up with a claims management service, flood victims lose the option for their insurer to arrange the often complicated repairs and the guarantees on the work they do.
People may be left out of pocket, wait longer for claims to be resolved, and end up in court trying to sort it out.
“You should not sign anything which prevents you from dealing directly with your insurer, broker, financial adviser or your own lawyer,” Ms Fentiman said.
People who have lost paperwork, or can’t remember who their insurer is, can contact the Insurance Council for help.
Mr Hall said premiums will come down when the risk is reduced by councils and governments.
“If we put people back in the same homes in the same locations, we’ll see the cycle repeat,” he said.