January 3, 2019 / 4:26 AM / 9 months ago

Australia's Suncorp inundated with claims after Sydney hailstorm

(Reuters) - Australian insurer Suncorp Group Ltd said on Thursday it has received about 24,800 claims following a Sydney hailstorm last month, with the figures likely to rise over the coming weeks as customers return from holiday.

The insurer expects total natural hazard costs across Australia and New Zealand of between A$600 million ($416.16 million) and A$610 million for the half-year ended Dec. 31, 2018, it said in a statement.

This leaves Suncorp with natural hazard costs of about A$240 million above its half-year allowance of A$360 million.

Extensive hail and water damage across Sydney and the Central Coast in December had prompted the Insurance Council of Australia to declare a catastrophe.

Last month, the council said majority of the claims received by insurers were for damage to cars and other vehicles, such as smashed windscreens and dented panels as they suffered the onslaught of “tennis ball” sized hailstones.

The expected total claims costs related to the hailstorms will exceed the A$250 million pre-tax maximum first event retention limit within its reinsurance program, the insurer added.

Reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru; Editing by Stephen Coates and Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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