The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) is working with emergency services and local governments in the Northern Territory and Victoria after the states were ravaged over the weekend by Tropical Cyclone Marcus and a series of bushfires.
Category 2 Tropical Cyclone Marcus, which reached peak gusts of 130km/h on Saturday, caused extensive damage in and around the Darwin area of Australia’s Northern Territory.
Of the 500 insurance claims received so far, most have been for light damage to property, broken windows, and damage to fences and vehicles from fallen trees, although several large claims have also been reported.
Many schools and businesses remain closed due to fallen debris and power outages, and a boil water alert was issued over the weekend by authorities, who also remain cautious of the risk of flooding from the cyclone’s accompanying rainfall.
NTNews quoted Michael Gunner, Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, as saying: “We are still in an emergency situation. The clean up could take weeks or months.”
Meanwhile, in south-western Victoria, bushfires burnt through 14,000 hectares on Saturday night, destroying 18 homes, 42 dairy and machinery sheds, and countless livestock.
The fires are believed to have been sparked by lightning strikes and spread rapidly without warning, with flames reportedly reaching up to seven metres in height.
Although the blazes are now contained, about 200 firefighters remain on the ground to deal with ‘hotspots’.
According to ABC News, Victoria’s Emergency Management Commissioner, Craig Lapsley, said: “To be in bed and say there’s a fire — [and] these were fast-running fires — not to have death and major injury is a great outcome”.
Four people were reportedly hospitalised for smoke inhalation, and one firefighter has been treated for a minor injury.
ICA’s Chief Executive Officer, Rob Whelan, said insurance companies are on standby to deal with claims as the extent of the damage to household and business owners emerges.
He added: “I expect it will take several days for the full extent of these disasters to be known. Insurance companies are standing by to assist their customers.
“I encourage anyone who has suffered property damage to contact their insurer as soon as possible to seek guidance on the claims process and the assistance they are entitled to under their policy.
“The ICA is in contact with relevant services and agencies in the NT and Victoria, and is standing by to respond if escalation is required.
“I can assure Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner that the insurance industry will treat its customers with respect and will seek to reduce the stress and heartache they experience during this difficult time.”