The Insurance Council of Australia’s (ICA) latest data released Friday (July 29) show insured losses at $5.13m from the February-March floods have passed Cyclone Tracy’s in 1974, making it Australia’s second most costly extreme weather event – just shy of the 1997 Sydney hailstorm, which caused $5.57m in insured losses.
ICA CEO Andrew Hall said the Feb-March east coast flood continued to break near 50-year records, showing “just how devastating this catastrophe was for so many communities”.
The latest ICA data show more than $2bn have already been paid to insureds affected by the floods. Of the 230,000 claims from the event, 36% has now been finalised and closed. The average claim was $22,000. Personal claims averaged $17,000, while commercial claims averaged $71,000. The number and value of claims were evenly split between NSW and Qld.
The new data co-incide with CSIRO’s one-in-a-decade megatrends report which forecasts the cost of natural disasters will triple over the next 30 years because of accelerated climate change. ICA said the report echoed its calls to increase federal and state government investment in measures to improve household and community resilience.
Hall said insurers continued to employ more people and contractors to resolve claims for affected customers but were hampered by delays because of a shortage of expert assessors and significant constraints on builders and building materials.
“The scale and impact of the increasing likelihood of further events, as detailed in the CSIRO report, make it imperative that the rebuild and reconstruction from this flood significantly improves the resilience of these communities to future extreme weather events,” he said.