Big Banks announce disaster relief packages in wake of Cyclone Debbie

As Queenslanders wake up to a big clean up following the destructive path left by Cyclone Debbie up and down the state’s North coast, the Big Four banks have been quick to release emergency relief packages for local customers affected by the tropical storm.

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Emergency services have already received over 600 calls for assistance as of Wednesday morning, with the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Katarina Carroll expecting significant property damage in the storm's aftermath.

"There were 11 properties severely damaged, let alone those with moderate and minor damage," said Carroll in an interview with the ABC.

“First of all, there's no power in some areas, and no communication. Thirty thousand people have been evacuated, so they will come back and find damage.”

The Commonwealth Bank has announced a number of initiatives for affected customers in North Queensland as part of their relief package, including emergency accommodation for Comminsure customers whose homes have been damaged as well as the fast tracking of insurance claims.

“Given the impact of these storms on the region, we would like to do what we can for our affected customers and community members at this difficult time,” said Kylie Hall, the Commonwealth Bank’s Regional General Manager for Queensland.“

"Special arrangements are in place to provide support to our customers should they need it, and our staff are ready to assist with any financial concerns or enquiries.”

ANZ released a similar package to assist any affected Queensland customers, with the bank offering to suspend repayments on loans (including credit cards) for up to three months and to waive application fees for new home or personal loan applications.

“After closely monitoring the impact of Cyclone Debbie, we have activated our financial relief package to customers in the region. Our thoughts go out to everyone affected during this difficult time,” said Tony Tapsall, ANZ’s General Manager for Northern Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Westpac has also announced it’s own disaster relief package, which provides any home loan customers impacted by the cyclone the opportunity to defer repayments for three months as well as loan restructuring opportunities for business customers.  

NAB joined the other three banks in offering its own relief package which includes credit card and personal loan relief for affected customers, the waiving of early withdrawal costs for customers with term deposits and the potential suspension of home and personal loan repayments.

In addition to the Big Four banks, St.George has released a disaster relief package of its own which offers customers the option to defer home loan repayments for up to three months and request an increase to their credit limit.

The Insurance Council of Australia has declared the cyclone a catastrophe, with CEO Rob Whelan stating that while insurers were expecting thousands of insurance claims in the coming days and weeks they would be prioritising claims from those impacted by the cyclone.

Five tips for home insurance claims

For Queenslanders who’ve been affected by Cyclone Debbie, The Insurance Council of Australia has released the following advice for policyholders.

  • Check your home for damage and, if needs be, get in contact with the emergency services or SES.
  • If your home is unsafe get in contact with your insurer and ask about the possibility of temporary accommodation.
  • Contact your insurer before making any repairs (even emergency repairs) or conducting any work on your property. Ask for the insurer to provide their permission in writing.
  • Take pictures of any damage to your home property or contents.
  • Don’t worry if you can’t access your home insurance documents. Your insurer will only need the your name and address to find the policy.