Last week thousands of residents across the eastern states began experiencing flooding, with some towns remaining completely cut off, following storm-force winds and heavy rain that saw rivers and damns overflow.
The wild weather resulted in thousands of requests for assistance from state emergency services, with supplies being helicoptered into affected areas.
Evacuation orders have been issued for several towns in the Hunter Region of NSW after the Hunter River rose by more than 12 metres and the Namoi River flooded, with the Castlereagh River, Macquarie River and Lachlan River also expected to flood.
As declared by the Bureau of Meteorology, this summer is expected to see an above-average number of tropical cyclones, heavy rainfall and widespread flooding as a result of the second consecutive La Niña phenomenon.
Given the flooding, several lenders have begun offering mortgage relief to affected customers.
Australia and New Zealand Bank (ANZ) has offered a range of financial support measures for customers affected by the floods, including:
- Short-term repayment relief on home loans, credit cards, personal loans and some business loans (however interest may still be charged during this period)
- Waiving fees for restructuring business loans
- Waiving fees for accessing term deposits early
Customers with ANZ Home and Contents Insurance, may also be eligible for emergency funds and temporary accommodation.
ANZ general manager for NSW, Michael Wake, said: “Many residents, business owners and farmers have been forced to evacuate their homes and properties as flood waters rise.
“As the immediate impacts of the flood waters subside, and the recovery process begins, we hope these relief measures will help our customers in what is a very difficult time.”
The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) is also providing its Emergency Assistance to customers and businesses in flood-affected areas across NSW and Queensland.
This includes “customised payment arrangements” on mortgages, personal loans and credit cards, as well as the waiving of fees and charges.
It is also offering temporary overdrafts, additional loans or emergency credit limit increases (subject to credit approval).
Additional services include loan restructuring for business customers and expedited claims through CommInsure for customers seeking help through their home and contents insurance, have also been rolled out.
Retail banking services group executive, Angus Sullivan, said: “We’ve expanded the support measures we previously announced to include regions across NSW and Queensland who are now bearing the brunt of the torrential rainfall. Our thoughts are with the communities impacted by these floods and we thank the emergency services who are working tirelessly to help the community.”
National Australia Bank (NAB) has rolled out it disaster relief package for customers in flood-affected areas in New South Wales and Queensland.
It is encouraging customers affected by the floods to reach out to discuss a range of financial relief measures, including:
- Credit card and personal loan relief
- Waiving the establishment fee for restructuring business facilities
- Concessional loans to customers seeking support to restructure existing facilities to assist in repairs, restocking and re-opening for business
- Reduced payment arrangements and repayment moratoriums on home and personal loans
- NAB Assist tele-consults
- Wellbeing support for colleagues and customers.
NAB executive retail, Krissie Jones, said the measures provide customers access to immediate financial support.
“We are here to help and the number one priority for anyone in these impacted communities is to stay safe,” Ms Jones said.
“We are here to support all NAB customers, employees and the wider community before, during and after a natural disaster. Anyone who needs assistance or advice can contact us so we can discuss their circumstances and work out the best way to help.”
Westpac Banking Corporation (Westpac) is also offering mortgage and business loan repayment deferrals of up to three months, credit card repayment deferrals of up to 90 days and discounted personal loans (with no establishment fee) for those needing to purchase replacement goods.
It will also waive interest rate adjustments for affected customers wishing to withdraw term deposits, offer a halt on all interest accrual on unsecured credit products for a period of up to three months, and loan restructuring (fee-free).
Affected business customers with merchant facilities are eligible to receive assistance including monthly terminal access fee waivers for up to three months.
Chris de Bruin, Westpac's chief executive consumer and business banking said: “Westpac is ready to provide financial assistance for households, businesses and farms who are facing into an uncertain time as a result of the severe weather we have seen across eastern Australia in recent days.
“We want our customers to know there are a range of tailored financial support options available to help give them some breathing space including home and business loan deferrals and emergency credit card relief.
“We encourage any customer doing it tough to give us a call as soon as possible – so we can work through what support may be available for them.”
Suncorp Bank is providing its customers affected by floods assistance that includes:
- The deferral of scheduled loan repayments, including interest only.
- The restructuring of existing loans.
- Waiving the establishment fees for business and agribusiness customers.
- Working capital assistance for business and agribusiness customers.
- Rearranging personal loans with "minimal variation fees".
- Waiving the early withdrawal interest adjustments for the early withdrawal of term deposits.
- The refund of merchant rental fees for an agreed period.
- Providing credit card repayment relief where necessary.
Suncorp Bank CEO Clive van Horen said: “Our customers’ wellbeing is at the heart of our business and it’s important they know we are here to help them.”
[Related: Banks offer relief to Sydneysiders]
Annie Kane is the editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business.
As well as writing about the Australian broking industry, the mortgage market, financial regulation, fintechs and the wider lending landscape – Annie is also the host of the Elite Broker and In Focus podcasts and The Adviser Live webcasts.