Cyclone Debbie a 'catastrophe': insurers

Christine Flatley
AAP
Cyclone Debbie a 'catastrophe': insurers

Cyclone Debbie has been declared a "catastrophe" by the Insurance Council of Australia.

The severe category 4 storm crossed the coast near Airlie Beach at about 12.30pm (AEST) on Tuesday, uprooting trees, damaging buildings and leaving 34,000 in the region without power.

ICA CEO Rob Whelan said it was too early to estimate the cost of damage, but said insurers were expecting thousands of claims in the coming weeks.

Policyholders needing help can contact the ICA's disaster hotline on 1800 734 621.

Since 2006 insurers have paid more than $3.6 billion in cyclone-related claims in Queensland.

Cyclone Yasi, which caused extensive damage to less populated areas in the state's far north, caused insured losses of $1.4 billion.