Bushfires unlikely to hit bottom line at Suncorp

The worst NSW bushfires for several decades are unlikely to severely dent the profits of Suncorp, after it said claims from the disaster would not breach its reinsurance cover.

The worst NSW bushfires for several decades are unlikely to severely dent the profits of Suncorp, after it said claims from the disaster would not breach its reinsurance cover.

With several serious fires still burning on Thursday, CEO Patrick Snowball said it was too early to put a precise figure on the company's exposure to the fires.

"We're focusing our attention entirely on the needs of our customers that are being caught up in this tragic event," he said at the company's annual general meeting in Brisbane.

He said Suncorp would have a clearer idea of the claims it had received by the middle of next week, but the cost was easily within reinsurance agreements in place with other underwriters.

"It's well within our reinsurance arrangements," he said.

So far, there have been 1000 claims from the bushfires, with estimated insurance losses of $130 million, the Insurance Council of Australia said.

IAG, which owns the NRMA brand, is thought to be the most exposed to the disaster, but analysts say claims are unlikely to dent its earnings. Suncorp, the company behind AAMI and GIO, is next most exposed.

Mr Snowball's comments came after chairman Ziggy Switkowski responded to shareholder concerns that his decision to become chairman and chief executive of the National Broadband Network would interfere with his role at Suncorp.

Mr Switkowski last month took the rare step of agreeing to run the NBN Co as chief executive, as well as chairing the company, until a permanent replacement for former boss Mike Quigley was found.

"In taking on this new post, I recognise that for an interim period this will involve executive responsibilities and inevitably some new challenges and workload," he said.

To ensure he could manage the extra workload created by running Australia's biggest infrastructure project, he said he had taken a leave of absence from the board of Oil Search and resigned from Opera Australia and Lynas Corporation.

"I want to assure you I have the enthusiasm and capacity to carry out my duties for the Suncorp Group while taking on the demands of the National Broadband Network," he said.

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