Tasmanian flood damage bill hits $20m as insurance claims pour in after wild weather

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The damage bill from flooding in southern Tasmania is $20 million and rising, according to the Insurance Council of Australia.

That figure relates to private homes and businesses and does not include damage to public assets.

The council said insurers had now been hit with more than 2,150 private claims and that number was expected to grow as the full scale of the devastation became clearer.



The council's Campbell Fuller said it was too early to provide a breakdown of the claims, but it was clear Hobart's CBD and southern suburbs had been the hardest hit.

"It's very much about residential property damage, as well as some motor vehicle claims. We've seen plenty of vision of vehicles being washed down streets and those kind of things," he told ABC Radio Hobart.

"We encourage anyone who has been affected to contact their insurers because their insurers are standing by to provide the guidance they require."

There were reports of some Tasmanians being stranded without cover, due to a policy distinction between rain inundation and floodwater cover.

But Mr Fuller said he knew of "only a handful of cases" which had been problematic, with "96 to 97 per cent of the policies on the market" including flood cover.



"Householders and small businesses make a decision about whether they want flood cover or not," he said.

"Anyone who hasn't elected to have flood cover may strike some difficulties if in fact their properties were flooded rather than suffering storm damage."

He said most calls for help were related to clean-up issues and urged affected residents and businesses to "get on with it".

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In most cases, Mr Fuller said photographs, videos and damage samples would suffice to get claims moving.

"Get rid of anything that poses a health hazard and take photographs and get them out of the property as quickly as you can. You don't need festering mouldy furniture and carpets in your property," he said.

Many properties in the hardest-hit areas of Molesworth and Lachlan, north of Hobart, remained cut off by floodwaters after fast-flowing water washed away local bridges and damaged roads.

The Derwent Valley Council has estimated bridge repair costs will run into the millions and it is in talks with the state and federal governments about funding relief.

But residents have told the ABC they fear any such works could take weeks, or even months.

Insurance issues still linger from north's 2016 floods


Latrobe Mayor Peter Freshney said the floods in the south felt like deja vu, with the 2016 floods that devastated the region still fresh in the minds of many in his community.

"We've got two or three families still out of their homes, and we're almost two years past the fact," he said.


"They are still battling to get back into their homes because of insurance issues and battles to get compensation."

His advice to southern mayors was to persevere and that community-led recovery was the best type of recovery.

"It will be a long and drawn-out process but it's a matter of persevering," he said.

Councillor Freshney said insurance battles could be frustrating and lengthy.

"I thought there might be a review of the insurance provisions and the wording within policies generally [after the 2016 floods] as there were after the Queensland floods," he said.


'It's just total devastation'

South of the city, the clean-up continued at Kingston's Channel Court shopping centre, which sustained heavy damage in the deluge.

While the larger stores were open on Monday, a number of stores in the centre were still closed, with authorities working to clean areas of the ground flood and carpark.

Newsagent Mike Ditch said the recovery process was daunting.


"It's just … total devastation. There's nothing really that hasn't been touched," he said.

"I don't know how many weeks we'll be out of action. Our computers have been drowned.

"We missed out on the biggest or second biggest trading day of the year — Mother's Day — which hurt us a lot."

Kingborough Council also sustained significant damage to its civic centre and was open for urgent inquiries only.

Mayor Steve Wass said the council's works department received more calls in a day on Friday than it usually did in a month, and staff were prioritising the clean-up works.

"It's gone past disbelief and it's now into a numbness mode where you think, what do you do and how do you beat it?" Councillor Wass said.

"I'm sure council, and I'm sure local business, will look at it after to think, 'what can we do to prevent it again and what can we do to lessen it?"


Source: ABC News

14 May 2018
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