Sunshine Coast hail storm declared 'catastrophe' as Insurance Council estimates $40 million in damage

| 18.11,19. 04:15 PM |

Sunshine Coast hail storm declared 'catastrophe' as Insurance Council estimates $40 million in damage

Photo: Lyndon Westbrook had been renovating his home. At least three of his cars have been written-off too. (ABC News: Tara Cassidy)

It is expected more than half of the insurance claims will be for damaged vehicles with one car yard alone taking more than 200 cars after the powerful storm tore through the area on Sunday.

Clayton's Towing Service said it was a miracle no-one was injured in the deluge.

The company's car yard is now a sea of vehicles awaiting assessment from insurance companies.

At the height of the storm it had 20 tow trucks on the Bruce Highway between the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane.

"It was just total mayhem out there. When it hit, it hit hard and the cars were just destroyed so it was all hands on deck to get them off the highway," owner Mike Clayton said.

"Some of the windscreens and the windows — the holes went right through them," he said.

"The amount of damage on the southern end of the coast is amazing and the size of the hail is not something you would see very often that's for sure."

Clayton's Towing Services worker Wayne Tuite said it was one of the busiest times he had seen.

"A lot of people were really shaken up because of the size of the hail that came down while they were in the car and visibility was nothing. It's thankful nothing really bad happened," he said.

Mr Tuite said he expected the damage bill to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars with the majority of cars to be write-offs.

Insurance Council of Australia spokesperson Campbell Fuller said a disaster hotline had been set up to help policy holders with their claims.

"Typically the damage that we are seeing is smashed windscreens, dented panels for cars as well as damage to roof awnings, solar panels, and interior damage to some properties caused by overflowing gutters," Mr Fuller said.

"It's likely that more than half the claims received will end up being for motor vehicles and that will certainly put strain on the smash repair sector in south-east Queensland," Mr Fuller said.

He said the damage bill was expected to increase.

"Even just small storms can cause hundreds of millions, or even billions of dollars in damage," Mr Fuller said.

Karawatha Drive in Mountain Creek was one of the worst-hit streets.

Jade Smith spent the entire day cleaning up around her house, but considered herself one of the lucky ones.
"Everything went everywhere, we had the whole fence go down, the BBQ went around the corner," Ms Smith said.
"Palm fronds everywhere, it was crazy, hail sideways," she said.
$200,000 damage in 20 minutes
For the Martin family Sunday's storm came with a terrible sense of deja vu.
It was the third time this year the family's lychee farm in the Glass House Mountains has been hit.

"Some of those bundles [of hail] that were in the netting I would estimate they are around the 2 tonne mark," Bob Martin said.
He estimated the 20-minute deluge had caused up to $200,000 in damage.

"Growing trees and farming is not something you can insure for. The premiums if you were to try and insure … would be ridiculous, it just wouldn't be worth it," Mr Martin said.
His son Ryan Martin spent Monday morning cutting the nets protecting the trees, due to the weight of hail.
"Even the fruit left on the trees is damaged," he said
"This was looking to be our biggest year. We were hoping to get 20-25 tonne worth of lychees, obviously not now, I reckon we'll be pushing 5 tonne," he said.
He remained optimistic that next year would be better.
"We will just have to get it repaired and move on I suppose, not much you can do about it," he said.

The Insurance Council of Australia has declared yesterday's hail storm on the Sunshine Coast a "catastrophe" after receiving more than 5,000 claims and a damage bill reaching $40 million.


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