The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has declared a catastrophe for damage caused by hailstorms that struck eastern Melbourne, the Australian Capital Territory and parts of New South Wales on Sunday and Monday (Jan. 19-Jan. 20).

Insured losses from the hailstorms rose to at least A$514 million (US$352.5 million) as of Jan. 23, according to Guy Carpenter in its latest CAT-i Report, which quoted figures from the ICA.

About two-thirds of claims are for damage to motor vehicles, said the ICA.

On Jan. 22, catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide also quoted the ICA, saying that 41,000 claims had been received so far, including 16,000 auto claims in Canberra alone.

Guy Carpenter said large hail, winds and flash flooding were caused by severe storms which affected large parts of Victoria, Canberra, Sydney and South-East Queensland on Jan. 19-21.

There were ground reports of hail of up to 5 cm (2.5 inches) in diameter across Canberra, Sydney’s south-west and parts of Melbourne. Initial damage reports indicate that the suburbs of Belconnen in Canberra, Campbelltown in Sydney and Glen Iris in Melbourne were the most severely affected, according to the Carpenter report, quoting the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).

The ICA’s Head of Risk and Operations Karl Sullivan said insurers would prioritize claims from hailaffected areas and were advising customers about assessments and repairs.

He expected thousands of additional claims would be lodged this week as property owners inspected damage and contacted their insurers.

“Property owners should contact their insurer before commissioning any repairs to their homes or business to ensure these works are paid for under their policy,” he said.

Source: Insurance Council of Australia (ICA), Guy Carpenter and AIR Worldwide

*This story ran previously in our sister publication Insurance Journal.