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New South Wales storm insured losses up again to AUD$201m


The insurance industry loss estimate for the New South Wales, Australia east coast low pressure storm, that affected the region, particularly Sydney, in recent days, has risen again to reach AUD$201m, according to the ICA.

Update: The industry loss estimate rose to AUD$295m.

The Insurance Council of Australia first reported the value of claims reported on the 22nd April, when it said 19,500 claims had been registered which it estimated would have an insurance industry loss impact of AUD$129m.

That number rose yesterday, when the ICA increased the figures to 24,250 and an insurance industry loss estimate from the storm of AUD$161m, an increase of 25%.

This morning the number of claims registered has increased again, reaching 29,650, which has in turn caused the ICA to increase the insurance industry loss estimate by another 25% to AUD$201m.

Reports suggest this figure will at the least double by the time all claims come in, with media reports estimating somewhere over AUD$500m as the final insured loss toll. At that level there could begin to be some impact to reinsurance programme layers.

Meteorologists are warning that another severe storm is set to move up from Antarctica and affect New South Wales over the weekend, bringing more strong winds and heavy rain. It’s not expected to be as intense or long-lasting as the recent storm, but could increase the overall cost and damage.

The level of losses remains below where it would trouble any ILS fund managers, or providers of collateralized reinsurance, for the moment. However if the tally does double, or more, in the coming days we could begin to see some reserving occurring for potential impact to reinsurance layers.

RMS reported the following yesterday:

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Over the last few days, strong winds and heavy rainfall from an intense low pressure system have impacted eastern portions of New South Wales (NSW), including the capital city Sydney (pop. ~ 4.8 million), the Central Coast, and the Hunter Region, which has damaged homes, caused thousands of power outages, transport disruption, and four fatalities.

The town of Dungog (pop. ~2,000), located approximately 100 mi (160 km) north-northeast of Sydney appears to the worst area affected by flooding, with dozens of homes damaged and four homes destroyed. The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) have reported that over 24,400 claims relating to the storms have been lodged across NSW to date.

Incoming claims are mostly relating to low-level property damage from water and wind damage, and damage to cars, though some claims relating to severe damage to houses and roofs and storm-water inundation have been lodged.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), at the height of the storm on Monday April 20, rainfall accumulations of 4.7 in (120 mm) were recorded over a period of 24 hours across the affected areas, including Sydney, while rainfall accumulations reached 12.2 in (312 mm) in Dungog over the same time period. The BoM also reported that eastern portions of NSW were impacted by wind gusts of up to 85 mph (135 km/hr) on Monday.

Since Monday, the NSW State Emergency Service have responded to more than 13,000 emergency calls and conducted over 140 rescue tasks. Twelve areas along the NSW coastline, between the cities of Newcastle (pop. ~ 308,000) and Sydney, have been declared natural disaster zones, which means that hardship payments and emergency assistance can be deployed quickly to these areas.

Reports indicate that the town of Dungog was one of the worst areas affected by flooding, with dozens of homes damaged and four homes destroyed. In the south-western districts of Sydney, over 200 homes were evacuated as heavy rainfall caused the Gorges River to burst its banks, flooding the surrounding towns southwest of Sydney.

At the height of the storm, strong winds downed trees and power lines causing over 215,000 power outages in Sydney, the Central Coast, and the Hunter Region. Four major power lines have since been restored, though approximately 155,000 power outages remain in effect as of Thursday April 23.

Dozens of international flights to Sydney Airport were diverted to Brisbane and many outbound flights faced disruptions, as strong winds created hazardous flying conditions. Large swells caused ferry services at Sydney Harbour to be disrupted, with some cruise liners and ships waiting up to 48 hours to dock, though normal services are beginning to resume. Over 180 schools in the region closed during the storm and are expected to remain closed today.

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