The General Insurance
Code of Practice
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Catastrophes

Information in this section provides an overview of the catastrophe provisions in the Code. It is recommended that anyone who has experienced a catastrophe reviews the Catastrophes section in the Code (Section 9) for full details.

The Code of Practice commits insurers to respond to catastrophes efficiently, professionally, practically, and in a compassionate manner.

The ICA will declare an event to be a catastrophe when it results in a large number of claims and involves multiple insurers.

A catastrophe is most commonly declared after an extreme weather event such as a severe cyclone, bushfire, flood or storm.

Urgent financial need of benefits after a catastrophe

If you are in urgent financial need of the benefits under an insurance policy you hold, because of loss or damage caused by a catastrophe which has resulted in an insurance claim, your insurer can fast-track your claim, and/or make an advance payment to you within five business days to address your immediate financial need.

Making a claim after a catastrophe

You can ask your insurer if your policy covers a particular loss before you lodge a claim, and the insurer can’t discourage you from lodging a claim. 

Once your insurer has all the information they need and has completed all investigation (which may include getting a report from an external expert), it will then make a decision on your claim within ten business days.  The process of investigation and decision-making will take no longer than four months in total from when you lodge your claim, unless there are exceptional circumstances (see below).

Extraordinary catastrophes

In exceptional circumstances, the ICA may declare an extraordinary catastrophe in line with its guidelines.

In these exceptional circumstances, an insurer may take up to 12 months to finalise a claim.

Reviewing a claim after a catastrophe

If you have a property claim resulting from a catastrophe that is finalised by your insurer within a month of the catastrophe, but you believe the assessment of your loss was not complete or accurate, you may ask your insurer to review your claim up to a year after finalisation.