​Industry rallies around catastrophe-hit state

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The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has declared a catastrophe for the bush fire-affected Perth Hills area of Western Australia.

The bush fire ravaged Perth Hills over the weekend and the early part of this week, destroying more than 50 homes, burning through more than 400 hectares, and leaving one dead.

ICA CEO Rob Whelan said insurers were still assessing the extent of the damage, but the ICA had declared a catastrophe to escalate the insurance industry’s response.

Insurance losses from the fire were yesterday estimated at $13m, the ICA told Wealth Professional’s sister publication Insurance Business.

A spokesman for the ICA said preliminary figures suggest almost 300 claims have been lodged and insurance losses are $13m.

The Department of Fire & Emergency Services has said the fire is contained and under control.
But a ‘bush fire watch and act’ alert remains in place for people in the eastern part of the Parkerville, Stoneville and Mount Helena in the shire of Mundaring.

Residents were yesterday allowed to return to their homes to assess the damage.
 
The ICA has established a taskforce and has activated its disaster hotline – 1800 734 621 – to help affected residents who are not sure which insurer they are with, or who have inquiries about the claims process.

Pass on the following advice from the ICA to affected policyholders:

• Contact your insurance company as soon as you can, and seek advice about the claim process under your policy, as well as what you’re covered for. Many insurers have 24-hour call centres
• Don’t be concerned if insurance documents are not readily at hand. Insurance companies keep records electronically and require only the policyholders’ name and address to find a policy
• Take pictures of damage to the property and possessions as evidence for your claim assessor
• Speak to your insurer before authorising repairs. Emergency repairs should only be undertaken in the first instance to make the property safe
• Remove and discard fire-damaged goods that pose a health risk
• If possible, keep samples of materials and fabrics to show the assessor
• Store damaged or destroyed items somewhere safe
• Make an inventory of damaged possessions. This will help insurers process your claim.

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