Australia’s summer catastrophe industry loss hits A$5.4bn

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Insurance and reinsurance industry losses from the spate of catastrophe events that impacted Australia through its summer months in 2019/20 are now estimated to have reached A$5.4 billion, according to the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA).

Weather image from DreamaticoThat’s a continued rise from the almost A$5.1 billion of industry losses reported back in May, showing that claims continue to creep for a number of the large catastrophe loss impacts that hit Australia in the last year.

The total had been A$4.46 billion back in March this year as well, so has been rising steadily over recent months.

Yesterday, the ICA said that insurers have already paid some A$3.85 billion of claims related to the summer catastrophe events, which will have been helped by their access to reinsurance capital that assist their ability to pay claims.

CEO of the ICA Rob Whelan explained that the local insurance industry had received more than 297,780 claims from four ICA-declared catastrophe events over the course of the 2019-20 summer, with losses amounting to almost A$5.4 billion.

Whelan noted that the industry is well ahead of its normal natural disaster response, with over 83% of bushfire claims already closed.

The summer bushfires in Australia are now estimated to have driven A$2.33 billion of losses and caused 38,416 of claims to flood into the local insurance markets.

Hailstorms in November 2019 in SE Queensland drove 29,782 claims and caused industry losses of A$481.92 million.

The January hailstorms in ACT, VIC and NSW resulted in 129,201 claims received with losses estimated at $1.625 billion.

Finally, the February East Coast storms and floods that impacted parts of QLD and NSW drove 100,384 claims and insured losses estimated at $958 million.

The reinsurance market provided significant support to the major Australian insurers in responding to these events, with quick recoveries and quota share arrangements helping to ensure they had the necessary risk capital to make claims payments in a timely manner.

Whelan commented on the season, “This was the worst natural disaster season I have experienced in my 101⁄2 years as chief executive of the Insurance Council.

“The industry’s efforts to help their customers through the emotional, physical and financial blows caused by these catastrophes is the best I’ve seen, despite the complications of COVID-19, and insurers continue to fine-tune their response.

“The insurance industry will continue to work to assist affected communities and policyholders and work through the remaining open claims to help people move on and rebuild their homes and lives.”

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