Australia’s 4 Summer Natural Disasters Cost Insurers More Than US$3.44 Billion

May 28, 2020

The cost of insurance claims from four natural catastrophes during Australia’s 2019-2020 summer has passed A$5.19 billion (US$3.44 billion), said the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA).

Thousands of new claims and property loss assessments have pushed total claims to more than 288,100, with more than 15,000 new claims worth A$270 million (US$178.9 million) lodged in the past four weeks alone.

Campbell Fuller

“Insurers have already paid more than A$2.85 billion (US$1.89 billion) for emergency accommodation, business interruption, repair and rebuilding work, replacement of motor vehicles and goods, services and settlements. This is despite the widespread impact of the natural disaster season and the handbrake effect of COVID-19,” said ICA Head of Communications Campbell Fuller. (Australia’s summer months are December to February).

“Almost 50% of claims from the four storm, bushfire and hailstorm catastrophes have been closed by insurers – an extraordinary result for households and businesses affected by these disasters,” he added.

The COVID-19 pandemic was declared a catastrophe by the ICA on March 11, 2020. The ICA said the insurance industry is currently assessing the impact of the crisis on claims and customers.

The ICA broke down the natural catastrophes as follows:

  • Australian bushfire season (New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia & Victoria) were declared a catastrophe by the ICA on Nov. 8, 2019. The estimated insurance losses are $2.32 billion (US$1.54 billion), with 38,181 claims lodged.
  • South-East Queensland hailstorm was declared a catastrophe on Nov. 17, 2019. The estimated insurance losses are A$451 million (US$298.9 million), with 28,642 claims lodged.
  • January hailstorms (affecting Victoria, Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Queensland) were declared a catastrophe on Jan. 19, 2020. The estimated insurance losses are A$1.525 billion (US$1.01 billion) with 124,693 claims lodged.
  • East Coast storms and floods were declared on Feb. 10, 2020. The estimated insurance losses are A$896 million (US$593.8 million) with 96,594 claims lodged.

Source: The Insurance Council of Australia

Photograph: This picture taken on Dec. 31, 2019 shows firefighters struggling against the strong wind in an effort to secure nearby houses from bushfires near the town of Nowra in the Australian state of New South Wales. Photo credit: Saeed Khan / AFP via Getty Images

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