Data from the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) shows that, so far, policyholders have lodged 11,700 insurance claims associated with the devastating storms and flooding in New South Wales (NSW).
The ICA noted that further claims have been lodged since those numbers were collected this morning and more are expected in the coming days and weeks, meaning it remains too early to estimate the overall cost of the flooding.
Days of torrential downpours have prompted rivers and dams to overflow around Sydney and in south-east Queensland, leaving 10 million people in flood warning areas.
According to local reports, several hundred homes have been flooded, roads damaged and wildlife lost with telecommunications and power outages across the flooded areas.
Emergency crews have conducted at least 700 rescues more than 2,500 people have applied for financial assistance.
ICA claims data shows the areas with the most claims are the NSW mid-north coast towns of Port Macquarie, Kempsey, Laurieton, and Taree, and west of Sydney around Penrith and in the Hawkesbury-Nepean valley.
“This remains an active natural disaster and it will take some time to gain a clearer picture of the damage,” said Andrew Hall, CEO of the Insurance Council of Australia. “Insurers expect a large number of claims will be lodged in coming days as property owners begin returning to homes and businesses.”
While it is too early to estimate the cost of the damage to properties, the ICA suggested the February 2020 east coast storms and flooding event can been viewed as a point of comparison. These events drove insurance losses of almost $1 billion.
Since the 2011 Brisbane floods, insurers now use a standard flood definition for home building and contents policies, the Council observed, and residential policyholders must make an explicit decision to exclude flood when buying or renewing a policy.
The intense flooding experienced this year contrasts starkly with the bushfire crisis that Australia endured last year, when drought conditions resulted in large parts of the country being ravaged by intense fires.
Changing conditions have been attributed to a La Niña weather pattern that is affecting Australia this year, which typically brings more rainfall and tropical cyclones during the summer months.