The Insurance Council of Australia has estimated insured losses from bushfires in New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland to be A$50mn ($34.1mn), after receiving 450 related claims already and more expected to follow in coming weeks.

According to the ICA, insurers had received a rapid increase in claims in the 24 hours prior to the loss estimate.

ICA – California wildfire

After calling a state of catastrophe for NSW when bushfires broke out on Saturday (9 November), the ICA has declared that claims from the fires “will be prioritised by all insurers.”

“The declaration is intended to reduce the emotional, physical and financial stress experienced by affected families,” the council added.

Priority status has now been extended to include property owners in two Queensland communities – Yeppoon and the Sunshine Coast – in addition to mid-north coast NSW residents that have suffered insured losses from bushfires.

Confirmation of property losses prompted the ICA, the Queensland Government, the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service and local insurers to agree on the extension.

Fuller added that assessors have begun to visit affected properties in areas confirmed as safe by the emergency services, but urged any outstanding property owners to come forward with claims as soon as possible.

“Once insurers are aware of a claim they can swiftly provide appropriate help to the customer, which in many cases may include authorising urgent repairs or arranging emergency accommodation.”

He also advised residents not to take “unnecessary risks.”

“Preparing your property to reduce the risk of bushfire attack is sensible and prudent, but lives are more important than properties,” Campbell said.