Australian summer catastrophe industry losses surpass A$5bn

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Insurance and reinsurance market losses from Australia’s series of summer catastrophe loss events have now risen to a new high of almost AU $5.1 billion, according to the Insurance Council of Australia.

Weather image from DreamaticoWhen we last covered these loss events, which range from severe convective weather related hail storms, to flooding and rain bearing storms, and the extreme bushfire season that struck Australia, the total was AU $4.46 billion as of March 23rd.

So losses from these catastrophe events have risen by more than 14% in just two months.

The Australian catastrophe event that has seen its insurance and reinsurance industry loss estimate rise fastest was the severe hailstorms that hit the southeastern region of Australia in January.

Back in March, the estimate for these severe hailstorms was for an insured loss of A$1.2 billion, but this has now increased by 28% to A$1.53 billion as of May 23rd.

These hailstorms were triggered by an outbreak of severe convective weather, thunderstorms, large hail and flooding, that struck across a swathe of southeastern Australia from January 18th to the 20th.

The second biggest increase in industry loss estimate was for the severe storms and flooding that impacted the eastern coastal region of Australia at the beginning of February.

The storms and torrential rains began around February 4th and ran through to the 10th, with the severe storms bringing torrential rainfall to the Australian east coast, resulting in significant flooding.

Back in March, the ICA estimated the insurance and reinsurance market loss from this east coast low event at A$677 million, but this had risen by 18% to A$802 million as of April 23rd.

Another 18% increase in insured catastrophe loss estimate has been reported for the November 2019 severe hail storm that struck the Brisbane and Sunshine Coast region of South Queensland.

Hailstones the size of cricket balls were reported, causing damage to homes, businesses and automobiles, were widely seen, while strong winds also caused some damage in the region.

Previously, this Queensland hail storm loss had been reported as A$368 million back in March, but now it has risen another 18% to reach A$435 million.

Finally, the Australian bushfires, which were the worst in memory to strike the country.

Back in March the bushfires were estimated to have cost insurance and reinsurance markets some A$2.2 billion, but this figure had increased by 5% by May 23rd to A$2.32 billion.

So, in total these four summer catastrophe events have driven at least A$5.1 billion of losses to insurance and reinsurance markets, with some impacts felt in the insurance-linked securities (ILS) and collateralised reinsurance space.

Some further increases are to be expected as the final loss toll is tallied, but it wouldn’t be expected to rise significantly further from this stage.

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