Coronavirus: How COVID-19 is changing what's being claimed under insurance

Fewer cars on the roads have led to a drop in car insurance claims due to coronavirus. Picture: Elesa Kurtz
Fewer cars on the roads have led to a drop in car insurance claims due to coronavirus. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Fewer car insurance and more home and contents insurance claims are being filed with providers due to coronavirus and social distancing measures.

As COVID-19 changes the way people go about their daily life, the industry says there's been a shift in the types of claims being submitted since the outbreak of the virus.

IAG, which includes insurers such as NRMA, CGU, SGIO and SGIC, said there had been a reduction in motor claims in recent months across the companies.

"Given the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, we have also seen a substantial increase in travel insurance claims and a steady increase for rent default under our landlord insurance policies," an IAG spokesman said.

"We recognise the extraordinary circumstances our customers are experiencing during this crisis and the deep impact it is having on people, businesses and communities - financially, socially and emotionally."

While it is not known how many claims have been made across the industry since the start of the outbreak until figures are released by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, insurers say they have been impacted heavily by coronavirus.

However, Australia's peak body for insurance says while the number of total claims may not have increased, the pandemic has shifted the types of claims issued to providers.

Campbell Fuller from the Insurance Council of Australia said while fewer motor vehicle claims have been made due to people not being on the road as often, people spending more time at home had resulted in more home and contents claims.

"One of the most common claims to be lodged for household insurance is a kitchen fire, and with more people cooking from home, that risk may go up," Mr Fuller said.

"The risk factors don't fall, they just simply change, and we've had to balance fewer cars on the road with other reasons."

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The virus outbreak has also led to the types of insurance products being offered to change with few travel insurance products being offered due to uncertainty surrounding international travel.

Mr Fuller said it was too early to tell of the true impact coronavirus would have on the industry.

"It's not been business as usual, it's been far from it. Just about every other sector of the economy has been affected," he said.

"The general insurance sector is struggling to deal with the impact coronavirus is having."

Coronavirus restrictions have also led to tradespeople carrying out repairs once claims have been finalised to be delayed as a result of social distancing measures.

The impact of coronavirus comes as more than $4.6 billion worth of claims were made due to the summer's bushfire crisis.

Mr Fuller said claims made during the bushfire period were not being pushed back as a result of the pandemic.

"This is a complex situation and it evolves every day," he said.

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This story How coronavirus is changing insurance claims in Australia first appeared on The Canberra Times.