Bushfire crisis: farm insurer Achmea is committed to rebuilding livelihoods

January 30, 2020 9:49 am

Immediate assistance for bushfire-affected clients is available from Australia’s specialist farm insurer Achmea, who is committed to rebuilding clients’ livelihoods and the resilience of agricultural communities.

As hundreds of fires continue to burn, Emma Thomas, Chief Executive Officer at Achmea Australia, has prioritised the safety of its staff who live in fire-affected areas and dealing with the impacts on their families and communities.

“We see first-hand the sheer devastation in our communities and praise our brave firefighting personnel and volunteers across the country who are putting themselves on the front line of the fires to protect our communities.”

“We are offering financial assistance and emergency accommodation as required for the safety and well-being of our clients who have been impacted by the fires and had to submit a claim.”

Over the last few months, Australia’s catastrophic bushfire season has claimed the lives of more than 20 people and an estimated 100,000 cattle and sheep. The bushfires have destroyed critical infrastructure and thousands of homes, with the amount of land burned in this summer’s bushfire catastrophe believed to be more than 10 million hectares including critical agricultural land.

Emma said assessors have started visiting clients to evaluate the damage and support them in areas where it is safe to do so.

“Agricultural communities right across the country are facing a recovery effort on a scale never seen before.”

“Our communities are hurting, many of which have also had to deal with the harsh effects of the prolonged drought.”

Emma said while the road to recovery is expected to be a tough and long one, Achmea is committed to its strong vision of protecting and enhancing agricultural communities.

“Through our direct insurance approach, we work side by side with our clients on their recovery and continue to engage with our partners to rebuild the resilience of agricultural communities.”

“As Australia’s specialist farm insurer, we have a strong purpose, which is to keep farmers farming. Despite these catastrophic losses, rebuilding livelihoods and getting farms back up and running again is at the heart of our approach,” she said.

To help support the economic recovery of our agricultural communities, Achmea’s claims philosophy is designed around access to local expertise and resources.

The Achmea Group supports the lives of 13 million people worldwide and is committed to contributing to a healthier, safer and more future-proof society. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations are integrated into Achmea’s strategy, with climate action a priority.

“We are seeing an increase in losses incurred as a result of extreme weather events. Our focus is on knowledge-sharing, prevention and risk reduction to support the resilience of our farmers,” Emma said.

Prior to the start of the 2019 bushfire season, the specialist farm insurer launched the Achmea Bushfire Risk Mitigation Series, designed to help farmers manage on-farm risks ahead of, and during, these unprecedented fire conditions.

The series is run by third-generation farmer and Achmea Risk Specialist Mark Vayro, one of the long-term volunteer firefighters working for the insurer.

“During these unprecedented fire conditions, fires can quickly get out of control – even the most seasoned farmer can be caught out,” Emma said.

Established in 1811 by a group of Dutch farmers to provide compensation in the event of natural disasters, Achmea has extensive experience in helping farmers rebuild their livelihoods, including Cyclone Debbie in March 2017 and the damaging hailstorms in December 2018.

After personally witnessing many natural disasters on rural communities including the Christchurch earthquake in 2011 and the Kaikoura earthquake in 2016, Emma said one of the most worrying and often unacknowledged recovery aspects is the long-lasting mental health impact.

“Australian farmers are among the most resilient in the world, but it can be very difficult to adjust to life after a catastrophic event. Ongoing mental health and trauma support needs to be a collective priority of our national bushfire recovery response,” she said.

“These are difficult times for all, with further challenging bushfire conditions still ahead.”

“Our farmers, their families and their employees are the most important assets on farm. We have seen conditions changing rapidly and encourage everyone to stay safe by monitoring the latest warnings and advice of local authorities,” Emma said.