Zurich-based catastrophe insurance data provider, PERILS, has reported an initial insurance industry loss estimate of AUD $1.055 billion for the New South Wales and Queensland floods, which occurred in March this year.
The East Coast of Australia experienced an extreme period of rainfall from 18th to 24th March, which resulted in major river and surface water flooding.
The rainfall was the result of a blocking high pressure system in the Tasman Sea and a low-pressure system off north-west Australia which fed large volumes of moist tropical air into eastern Australia.
The areas most affected were the Mid North Coast, and the Hunter and Greater Sydney regions. In addition, adjacent parts of south-east Queensland and eastern Victoria were also affected by storm and flood damage.
During this 7-day period, the New South Wales coast experienced the highest recorded rainfall since national records began in 1900, with some locations along the mid-north coast of New South Wales recording 600-800mm of rain.
The resulting damage to private property and businesses was covered to a large part by insurance, while losses to public infrastructure, crops and livestock remained largely uninsured.
Darryl Pidcock, Head of PERILS Asia-Pacific, commented: “During the week ending 24 March 2021, the East Coast of Australia experienced extreme rainfall over both a wide geographic area and an extended period. The resulting damage from storm drain water and river flooding was considerable, especially for New South Wales, where the event represents the largest industry flood loss on record.
“While damage to private property was largely insured, there were cases where policyholders decided to opt out of flood cover reminding us of the challenges the industry still faces in offering sustainable and affordable flood risk protection in Australia.”