Initial insured property losses for floods that recently affected northern Queensland, Australia, and in particular the city of Townsville, are estimated at A$957 million, according to PERILS, the independent Zurich-based organization that provides industry-wide catastrophe insurance data.
The Townsville floods were the result of a slow-moving monsoon system which brought excessive rainfall to northern Queensland between Jan. 26 and Feb. 10, 2019, explained PERILS.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology reported numerous sites that experienced 10-day rainfall accumulations of more than 2000 milimeters (6.6 feet). For the city of Townsville, the accumulated totals from consecutive days were the highest since records began in 1888.
The resulting surface and river flooding caused large devastation in rural northern Queensland and major losses in the city of Townsville, where flooding by the Ross and Bohle rivers resulted in severe damage to thousands of homes, businesses and public infrastructure. Flooding in Townsville was further exacerbated by the opening of the spillway gates of the Ross River Dam as the reservoir’s capacity exceeded 200 percent, said PERILS.
Four people drowned in the flood waters and two people died from bacterial infection caused by soil-borne bacteria which were stirred up by flood waters, the organization added.
Given the record-breaking amount of rain that fell over North Queensland, “it is no surprise that extensive flooding occurred from overflowing rivers and surface water run-off,” commented Darryl Pidcock, head of PERILS Asia-Pacific. “After 1998, 1953 and 1946, this is the fourth time in the last 100 years that the Townsville region has been affected by severe floods.”
He said these losses clearly demonstrate the need for reliable flood insurance data, which PERILS aims to provide. Such data, he added, will help improve the industry’s understanding of Australian flood risk and ultimately make easier to insure.
PERILS’ initial estimate of the insured property market loss for the Townsville flood was based on loss data collected from affected insurers. In line with the PERILS event definition, the loss number covers the property line of business only and excludes losses from Motor and other lines of business.
An updated estimate of the market loss from the Townsville Flood will be made available on April 26, three months after the event start date, said PERILS.
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