One year on from Canberra’s catastrophic hailstorms
01 Feb 2021
In January 2020, a severe storm system ripped through parts of Melbourne, the ACT and Sydney.
The storms brought heavy rain, destructive wind and huge hail that caused extensive damage to cars and homes. We received more than 40,000 home and motor claims across our brands from this weather event.
The storms were particularly destructive in the ACT, where two hailstorms on 18 and 20 January showered Canberra with golf-ball sized hail.
IAG Executive Manager Motor Assessing David Wilkes said: “The hail that hit the ACT during this storm was extremely large and it swept across the main populated areas, causing significant panel and glass damage to cars, which allowed water into the vehicles.
“As a result, more than 49% of claims were a total loss – that’s a significantly larger total loss rate compared to other hail events we’ve experienced across the country.”
For vehicles that were repaired, a larger percentage required paint and panel repair and replacements – almost 80% – compared to what we usually see from hailstorms.
Across IAG brands, we received more than 13,000 claims for hail damaged vehicles in the ACT. We’ve completed 95% of repairs on these cars and our specialist hail repairers are finalising the remaining repairs, working with each customer to determine the most convenient time for them to bring in their vehicle.
Our partner Specialist Hail Repairer, Smart Repair, used a 3-D car scanner to triage cars at the hail damage assessment centre in Hume – it was the first time this technology had been used in Australia to triage hail damaged cars.
On-the-ground support from our Major Event team
Our national Major Event response team is up and running year-round and equipped to scale-up operations during a catastrophe. After these severe storms, our builders were on the ground immediately to make sure our customers’ homes were safe. Our claims teams went to the worst hit areas to support people through the claim process face to face and to organise emergency assistance, such as temporary accommodation, while the damage was assessed and repaired.
We also increased our call centre capacity and allocated more people to the claims and repair management teams to help our customers lodge their claims as quickly as possible.
We have two specialist hail repair centres in Canberra which are solely focused on assessing and repairing hail damaged vehicles. When an event of this size happens, they have the ability to scale up their operations so there’s no additional pressure on our smash repairers and they can focus on the everyday repairs that our customers require following an accident.
After the storms hit, our repairers set up large-scale centres, fully equipped to handle any vehicle repairs – from paintless dent removal to full paint and panel repair. In the immediate aftermath of the storms these centres were assessing and triaging up to 300 vehicles a day.
Now the majority of the repairs are complete, our repairers are moving back to their permanent Canberra-based centres, where they will continue to repair the remaining vehicles and be ready to help our customers in the ACT recover from any future wild weather.