Insurance payout from east coast floods ‘will reach $3.35b’

The February/March floods in South-east Queensland and coastal NSW look set to become Australia’s single costliest flood event.

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) says that based on 197,000 claims filed across both states, the event will rack up $3.35 billion in insured losses.

This makes it the most expensive flood in Australia’s history, and the fifth most costly disaster after the Eastern Sydney hailstorm (1999, $5.57 billion in normalised 2017 values), Cyclone Tracey (1974, $5.04 billion), Cyclone Dinah (1967, $4.69 billion) and the Newcastle earthquake (1989, $4.24 billion).

The rise in claims costs compared to previous floods is being driven by higher costs in the personal property, personal contents and commercial property classes related to materials costs and supply chain issues.

More than 11 percent of claims have already been closed and $580 million has already been paid to policyholders.

The ICA says the data makes the case for investment in mitigation measures to lessen the impact of future events “even more compelling”.

The council has also released a new report focussing on the need to overhaul current land-use planning rules so they better protect homeowners and businesses from the worsening flood risk.