Banks halt mortgage bills for bushfire victims

The nation’s banks will freeze mortgage repayments for home owners devastated by bushfires across eastern Australia.

Many lenders will also offer emergency increases to credit card limits and defer business loan repayments, for those in fire stricken areas.

“Banks understand this is a difficult and stressful time for those households and businesses affected by the fires.  It’s not a time when people want to be worrying about their finances,’’ said Australian Bankers’ Association chief executive Steven Münchenberg.

‘‘If someone’s home, income or business has been affected by the fires, they should contact their bank as soon as they are able to. Their bank can provide support to help households and businesses get back on their feet.”

Losses from the Tasmanian fires are expected to rise sharply above current estimates of $42 million, according to the Insurance Council of Australia. So far more than 410 claims have been received for a mix of residences, businesses, holiday homes and vehicles hit by the fires, which have burnt through a sixth day.

Elsewhere, homes near Ballarat in Victoria were destroyed on Tuesday night, while more than 135 fires were burning in NSW over Tuesday night razing more than 60,000 hectares across the state.

Assistance on offer includes the freezing of home loan repayments; restructuring business loans; giving credit card holders emergency credit limit increase.

Banks will also offer payment holidays on credit cards and defer repayments on equipment finance facilities.

Banks provided similar emergency packages after Queensland’s devastating floods during the summer of 2011. Some offered cash grants to customers whose homes had been damaged or destroyed.

Earlier Wednesday Commonwealth Bank donated $100,000 to the Red Cross Tasmanian Bushfires Appeal.

“We understand the devastating effect these fires have had on Tasmanian communities, and we need to support the bushfire victims as much as possible during this time,” said Commonwealth Bank’s general manager of retail sales Lyn McGrath.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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