DEPUTY Prime Minister Julia Gillard has urged insurance companies to show some heart when they are hit by massive claims from Victorian bushfire victims.
“Anybody with a heart would be taking a very sympathetic point of view to people who make claims in these circumstances,” Ms Gillard, a Victorian MP, told ABC Radio.
“Let’s urge for the best and expect to see the best, rather than not,” she said. “I am sure that anybody from an insurance company that has looked at their TV screens today is going to see the devastation and understand it is going to trigger claims and that those claims need to be responded to sympathetically and quickly.”
The Insurance Council of Australia yesterday expressed its deepest sympathy to those people in Victoria who had been affected by the bushfires.
At this stage it was too early to provide an estimate for the expected insurable recovery cost, insurance council chief executive Kerrie Kelly said.
The insurance council has established a taskforce and is working closely with the Victorian Government and the Master Builders Association to start the rebuilding process as soon as possible.
The insurance council encouraged policy-holders to make contact with their insurance companies and seek advice about the claims process, and not to be concerned if insurance documents had been lost or damaged.
Insurance companies keep records electronically and require only the policy-holder’s name and address in order to locate a policy.
As general insurance industry statistics on the number of claims and insurable costs were collated, they would be released by the insurance council, Ms Kelly said.
Ms Gillard said that Saturday had been “just an awful, awful day”.
“There are going to be whole towns that need rebuilding and there are people who are going to need emergency income support,” she told ABC television.
There might also be a need for additional federal support for Victorian hospitals to deal with injured people. “We’re going to do everything we can, as quickly as we can,” Ms Gillard said.
The federal Government had already responded with a request for emergency bedding, Ms Gillard said. “We have the ability to move the defence force as necessary to assist and then there will be the income relief and rebuilding work.”