SYDNEY, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- Insurance companies have already received about 550 claims totaling 30 million AU dollars (28.9 million U.S. dollars) since the devastating bushfires broke out in New South Wales on Thursday, the Insurance Council of Australia ( ICA) said Friday.
The representative body of Australia's general insurance industry said many of the claims that have been lodged are for a total loss of properties and the number is expected to climb over the next few days.
"We expect this will rise quite sharply over coming days and weeks," ICA spokesman Campbell Fuller told reporters Friday.
He said the volume of claims was likely to exceed that of earlier blazes at Coonabarabran in New South Wales.
On Thursday night, the ICA declared a catastrophe for bushfire- affected regions of NSW where properties have been severely damaged or destroyed.
Inspectors from insurers are on standby to assess the damage in the affected areas when it is safe to do so, according to the ICA.