Three-year weather bill reaches $12.3 billion

New data released by the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) today shows that the insurance bill for storms and floods since January 2020 has topped $12.3 billion.

Every eastern state has been significantly 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.

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 one in 25 adult Australians has made an insurance claim because of this wild and wet weather.

The cost of this year’s February-March floods has now reached more than $5.65 billion, surpassing the 1999 Sydney hailstorm in cost and making it the most expensive natural disaster in Australia’s history.

The February-March floods have seen more than 237,000 claims lodged, and insurers have now paid out $3.54 billion and closed 69 per cent of claims from this event.

The July severe weather that inundated parts of western Sydney and surrounds has resulted in almost 22,000 claims at a cost of $244 million.

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 flooding 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, an estimate of the extent of the damage bill is still being determined.

Quote attributable to ICA CEO Andrew Hall:   

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 one 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.

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.

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