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Brisbane vehicle storm toll climbs to 60,000

Going gone: Buyers crowd Manheim’s auction house in Brisbane to look for a hail-damaged bargain.

Hail-damaged cars head to auction as Brisbane storm damage bill climbs to $804m

General News logo11 Dec 2014

By RON HAMMERTON

UPDATE: 16/12/2014 BRISBANE’S hail-damaged motor vehicle toll has climbed to more than 60,000, with hundreds of cars already passing down auction lanes after being written off by insurance companies.

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) estimated that by yesterday morning, 58,000 claims had been received for storm damage to private cars, while a further 2800 claims had been received from commercial vehicle operators.

This is more than double the number originally reported to insurers last week after the November 27 “super cell” storm hit Brisbane with gale-force winds, massive hailstones and numerous lightning strikes, causing an estimated $804 million damage bill.

Insurance companies are still assessing damage, and the ICA has not ruled out a bill exceeding $1 billion, especially as storms continue to bash southeast Queensland this week.

ICA CEO Rob Whelan said many high-priority claims had now been assessed.

He warned that motor vehicle policy holders should talk to their insurer about Queensland’s laws on written-off cars.

“The Queensland Government’s legislation reflects an understanding that hail storms are common in the state, particularly south-east Queensland,” he said.

“Affected motor vehicle owners will have their vehicles assessed by the insurer, and the insurer will work with the owner to determine the most appropriate action available to them under their policy.” Mr Whelan said that if a motor vehicle owner decided to keep a hail-damaged vehicle or if someone bought a hail-damaged vehicle, getting comprehensive motor vehicle insurance could be “challenging”.

“Many insurers may not insure motor vehicles with existing hail damage, and there are safety issues to be considered too,” he said.

“Talk to your insurer first before buying a motor vehicle that has hail damage.” Meanwhile, car auction house Manheim has already put 800 storm-affected vehicles under the hammer at its Brisbane location at Eagle Farm, and this week is auctioning off more than 1000 vehicles – including ex-dealership stock that includes more than 300 new passenger cars, SUVs and commercial vehicles.

Manheim said that while all of the cars had been written off by insurance companies, most of them would be capable of being re-registered once they were repaired and made roadworthy.

Toyota Insurance has confirmed that it is also supporting its affected customers and dealers by responding to claims and turning them around in a “swift and orderly fashion,” according to a statement from the car-maker's local insurance arm.

The company said it was using 'best practice' to process claims, ensuring dealers quickly get back on their feet and become fully operational so they can get back to selling cars.

Retail customers were also being looked after, with Toyota Insurance simplifying the claim process and ensuring owners had a car over the busy holiday period.

A retail customer assessment site was set up in the Brisbane suburb of Acacia Ridge the Saturday after the storms, with customer vehicles driven into a three-lane 'triage' to be assessed for repair “through paintless dent removal (PDR), a combination of PDR and conventional repair, and total losses”.

Downtown Toyota dealer principal Andrew Clark said he was pleased by Toyota Insurance’s quick response to the hailstorm, with 50 of his dealership's vehicles affected.

“They responded very quickly and were onsite the very next day to sort out the damaged stock,” he said.

“They provided a plan outlining when, where and how to resolve all claims, and followed through with it perfectly.

“All our cars have now been assessed some are being repaired and others have been written off – I never had to ask twice for anything.”

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