Reflections six months on from ex-Tropical Cyclone Jasper


It’s been six months since ex-Tropical Cyclone Jasper hit Queensland, when members of the Suncorp Customer Support Team raced north to support flood affected customers. Today, Suncorp Group is reinforcing its commitment to our communities, working through challenging claims, supporting customers move back home, and working towards the future vision of a north Queensland customer support hub.


On 13 December 2023, the wettest tropical cyclone in Australian history made landfall 

When ex-TC Jasper hit Far North Queensland, Suncorp Group’s Customer Support Team (CST) mobilised as soon as it was safe to do so. 

Roger Clegg was one of the first to get the call, and within two hours he was on a plane from Brisbane to Cairns.  

Mr Clegg is a Lead in the Suncorp Group CST, whose usual role is in supporting Customer’s Experiencing Vulnerability (CEV), and takes great pride in being able to support some of the Group’s most vulnerable customers in the moments immediately after severe weather strikes. It is a voluntary secondment from his BAU (business as usual) role. 

“The CST are all people who work for Suncorp in various roles, and volunteer to step into a CST role, often at a moment’s notice, when extreme weather events hit the community. They are a great group of people,” Mr Clegg said. 

“You don’t often get much lead time to deploy. When an event occurs, we want to be on the ground as soon as it is safe to do so.” 

Roger Clegg and his Suncorp colleague Kim Turner at a community recovery hub.

Jasper relentlessly dumped more than 2,250 mm of rain on northern Queensland communities 

Ex-TC Jasper, while considered a low-level category cyclone, quickly turned into chaos with its record-breaking, torrential rainfall bursting riverbanks and causing widespread flooding. As flood waters rose throughout Far North Queensland, communities were quickly inundated, and major roads and airports closed. 

Working tirelessly under heavy rain, Queensland State Emergency Service (SES) and other responders evacuated people trapped on the roofs of their homes. Their teams responded to thousands of calls for help by people within the region, as Cairns Airport halted all operations, due to the low visibility and the extreme flooding on the landing strip. A local man used his own mustering helicopter to rescue 16 people, one by one, who were stranded on a pub’s roof in Cooktown. 

More than a century of flood records were broken as communities, local agriculture, small business and tourism infrastructure endured widespread isolation and significant flood damage, all in the weeks before Christmas Day. 

Suncorp’s Customer Support Team was on the ground in community ‘hubs’, ready to listen and support those affected 

Mr Clegg made it to Cairns before the airport closure, to support what is known as a Community Recovery Hub. These hubs are a shared space in the heart of a community after an extreme weather event, so our customers can come in and speak with our people face to face, making the experience as easy for them as possible. 

“Our customers go through different stages in the immediate aftermath of an event, they’re really in survival mode," he said. 

"Some are looking to lodge a claim in the hubs as soon as possible, others need temporary accommodation or emergency funds to help them get by, or referral to support services such as trauma counselling, while others are just processing what’s happened and trying to sort out what they need. They might lodge their claims a little later."

While Mr Clegg and his CST colleagues’ job is to process the claim in front of them, that sometimes takes a back seat to offering some comfort to our customers, who are experiencing a traumatic event.

“Offering a listening ear and giving our customers some comfort and empathy generates a sense of relief that they’re being heard and we’re there to support them,” he said. 

“There is an amazing amount that we can do to support our customers but taking those few extra moments just to listen allows us to better assist them with their claim and immediate needs."

Following ex-TC Jasper’s destruction, Suncorp Group received close to 2,600 customer insurance claims 

Suncorp Group Chief Executive Officer Steve Johnston visited flood recovering communities in Cairns in the lead up to the six-month anniversary of ex-TC Jasper, and reinforced Suncorp Group’s commitment to the region. 

“Almost six months on from ex-TC Jasper, we are now 62 per cent through finalising the almost 2,600 claims we received, around 1,800 of which were home claims, following the destructive event that struck Queensland’s far north just before Christmas,” Mr Johnston said. 

“While we're making good progress, we are continuing to work through the more complex and challenging claims, working closely with our builders and repairers to return those customers still displaced back to their homes as quickly as possible.” 

Mr Johnston met with Suncorp customers Karen Hinchy and Metin Izlemek who live in a suburb of Cairns that experienced significant flooding from ex-TC Jasper. As their entire property went under 300mm of water, they had the additional distress of being away on holiday, and unable to personally start the insurance claims process. Thankfully, their friend lodged their claim with Suncorp on their behalf, and they were able to move forward smoothly with repairs. 

When Mr Johnston met the pair in May 2024, they were in the process of moving back into their newly repaired home. 

Suncorp Group CEO Steve Johnston visiting customers Metin Izlemek and Karen Hinchy in their newly repaired home in Cairns, May 2024.

“I can’t thank Suncorp enough - you’ve added 10 years to my life!” Mr Izlemek said to Mr Johnston during his visit to the home.

Mr Johnston said it was a “great privilege to experience milestones with our customers”.

“It’s so rewarding to see this family now back in their home and able to move forward with their lives,” he said.

Suncorp Group reinforced its commitment to North Queensland disaster mitigation and response 

While in the state’s north, Mr Johnston also met with federal, state, and local members of government to reiterate our ongoing advocacy via our four-point plan for greater household and community resilience and disaster mitigation measures to help reduce the impact of such disasters on communities. 

He also discussed the proposed development of a regional insurance hub based in Townsville, to better service disaster support efforts on the ground.  

“I spoke with local business leaders and some of our broker partners about our commitment to investing in the creation of a regional insurance hub employing more than 100 people to be based in Townsville, contingent upon all remaining approvals being received for the sale of the Bank to proceed,” Mr Johnston said.  

“The best way to service northern Australia is to be on the ground in northern Australia. And that's what we're trying to do.” 

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