Australia’s Biggest Insurance Claims and What You Can Do After A Disaster

Australia’s Biggest Insurance Claims and What You Can Do After A Disaster

Everyday people use insurance as a safety net for their personal domestic possessions, something to fall back on when the impossible occurs. Today, insurance is used as a protection of your belongings, and public liability where you may be legally liability for bodily injury or property damage. Generally, people don’t pay much attention to the importance of having good insurance cover. But every so often a well-publicised event occurs, that reinforces the true value of your insurance.

We’ve researched some of those major events, to see how much was claimed during those events. Below are ten major events impacting insurance in Australia, and a review of how much everyday Australians lost.

Rank Event Year Location State Loss (AUD$) Normalised Loss* (2011) (AUD$)
1 Hailstorms 1999 Sydney NSW 1,700,000,000 4,296,000,000
2 Tropical Cyclone Tracy 1974 Darwin NT 200,000,000 4,090,000,000
3 Earthquake 1989 Newcastle NSW 862,000,000 3,240,000,000
4 Flood 1974 Brisbane QLD 68,000,000 2,645,000,000
5 Flood 2010/11 Multiple QLD 2,380,000,000 2,380,000,000
6 Hailstorm 1985 Brisbane QLD 180,000,000 2,063,000,000
 7  Ash Wednesday Bushfires  1983 Multiple VIC
176,000,000 1,796,000,000
 8  Severe Storm  2007 Multiple  NSW 1,480,000,000 1,742,000,000
 9 Tropical Cyclone Madge  1973 Multiple QLD
30,000,000 1,492,000,000
 10  Tropical Cyclone Yasi  2011 Multiple QLD 1,300,000,000 1,352,000,000

Source: Insurance Council  (

So, how should we be protecting ourselves and our businesses in times like these?

The first step is to find out if you’re in a disaster prone area. This can be done by contacting:

  • Your insurer,
  • Your local council, and
  • Your state emergency service or local fire services authority.


The next step is to ensure that your policy covers the types of natural disasters expected in your area. To protect your livelihood and possessions, make sure that your policy cover will allow you to rebuild or cover losses.

For Australian families and businesses, natural disasters that occur most commonly include bushfires, cyclones, hail, severe storms, earthquakes and floods.

What to do after a disaster?

In the event of a natural disaster, if you have the right cover, your insurer will help pay for repairs and other expenses, making it easier for you to get back on your feet.

If your home has been damaged in a bushfire, storm, flood or cyclone, here are some things you should do:

  • Contact your insurer – Lodge a claim with your insurer or via your broker before you start any major repairs. Ask them to explain their claims process and talk to them about emergency or alternative accommodation. Don’t worry if your insurance documents have been lost or damaged as insurance companies keep records electronically.
  • Take photos and make lists – Before cleaning up take photos and make a list of everything that has been damaged to assist your claim, including the serial numbers of electronics.
  • Start cleaning up – Consider removing damaged possessions like carpet and soft furnishings.
  • Check with your insurer before authorising repairs – You may not be covered for unauthorised repairs or engaging tradesmen.
  • Be careful with damaged equipment – Do not use equipment or vehicles that may be damaged (e.g. an car that’s not roadworthy).


Lewis Insurance Services can help you ensure your home and your business are correctly covered for unpredictable events. Contact Lewis Insurance Services on 07 3217 9015 or send us an email at .


This information and any accompanying material does not consider your personal circumstances as it is of a general nature only. You should not act on the information provided without first obtaining professional financial advice specific to your circumstances and considering the Product Disclosure Statement.