New data from the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) suggests the insurance bill for storms and floods since January 2020 has reached $12.3 billion.
According to the ICA, every eastern state has been impacted by flooding over the last three years, while South Australia and Western Australia have been hit by storms and cyclone activity over that period.
Meanwhile, the data shows that the cost of this year’s February-March floods has now reached more than $5.65 billion, which the ICA says surpasses the 1999 Sydney hailstorm in cost, making it the most expensive natural disaster in Australia’s history.
Further, the ICA states that there have been more than 237,000 claims lodged during this period, with insurers having now paid out $3.54 billion and closed 69% of claims from this event.
The July severe weather that inundated parts of western Sydney has resulted in almost 22,000 claims at a cost of $244 million, while the mid-October storms and floods that cut across Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales have generated more than 17,200 claims with estimated insured losses of $477 million.
The recent flooding that is still impacting the Central West of New South Wales has so far resulted in nearly 3,600 claims lodged, with insurers currently deployed and assisting affected communities.
The ICA observes that since January 2020, almost 788,000 claims related to floods and storms declared Insurance Catastrophes or Significant Events have been received by insurers, meaning that in just three years, 1 in 25 adult Australians has made an insurance claim.
ICA CEO, Andrew Hall, commented on the data, saying, “Each one of the 788,000 wild and wet weather claims lodged with insurers over the past three years represents a significant disruption to an Australian homeowner, tenant, landlord, business owner, primary producer or motor vehicle owner.
“The fact that 1 in 25 of us has had to lodge an insurance claim because of this extreme weather is very sobering. We must not ignore what this data is telling us to do – invest in community-level mitigation, home retrofits, home buybacks in the most extreme cases, and better early warning systems.”
Hall added, “We also need to stop building homes and in harms’ way and make new homes stronger. While these figures show the massive impact of extreme weather events, they also show how hundreds of thousands of Australians have been helped back on their feet by their insurer.
“Given the scale of this year’s flooding in northern New South Wales and south-east Queensland it’s pleasing that more than two thirds of claims from this event are now closed, and insurers are working around the clock to close out the remainder.”