The eastern Sydney hailstorm and cyclones Tracy and Dinah would cause losses surpassing last year’s record-breaking floods if they struck today, figures recalculating losses based on current exposures show.
A catastrophe resilience report, released by the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA), includes an examination of how past disasters would now affect regions given population and property changes and inflation.
“This new data shows that when, not if, extreme weather events strike large population centres in the future, we can expect them to have a greater impact and be more costly, making the case for risk mitigation even more pressing,” ICA CEO Andrew Hall said.
Catastrophe modelling firm Risk Frontiers calculates the 1999 Sydney hailstorm would cause an estimated $8.85 billion in losses today, compared to the original estimate of $1.7 billion.
Cyclone Tracy, which killed 71 people and caused $200 million in losses when it struck Darwin in 1974 would cause $7.4 billion in claims today. The Newcastle earthquake would cause losses of $6.54 billion and Cyclone Dinah, which affected the Queensland coastline in 1967 would cost $6.19 billion.
Australia last calendar year experienced record-breaking flooding catastrophes as La Nina conditions persisted, while calmer weather conditions have been seen this year.
The report, which looks at losses on a financial year basis, says total catastrophe and significant event claims totalled $1.6 billion in the 12 months to the end of June, dropping from $7.28 billion in the previous corresponding period, which included $6 billion in losses from the southeast Queensland and NSW floods.
“It has been a challenging period,” Mr Hall told insuranceNEWS.com.au. “If we have a quiet summer this year, with fewer events, everyone in the sector is hopeful that it will enable the industry to catch its breath.”
The figures for last financial year show Victorian, NSW and Tasmanian flooding in October cost $736 million as a result of 22,151 claims.
In November, torrential rain led to severe flooding in Central West NSW, costing $237 million. The floodwaters reached SA in December with the River Murray Floods costing $393 million.
The final declared event for the fiscal year was the hailstorms that hit Newcastle in late May, causing insured losses of $238 million.