Insurers call for $2b investment in flood resilience measures

The Commonwealth should lift spending on extreme weather resilience measures to $200 million a year for five years, Australia’s peak insurance body says.

In a flooding and future risks study published last month, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA)  also calls on the states and territories to match this funding of $1 billion over five years.

The study identifying key issues affecting modern housing (post-2000) during flooding was conducted for the ICA by the James Cook University and Risk Frontiers.

After analysing thousands of flood claims covering four recent flood events, researchers found that:

  • current land use planning settings and associated building controls do not eliminate flood risk to modern properties;
  • the current building code does not consider building resilience to flood risk;
  • there are key data gaps that prevent insurers and homeowners from building an accurate picture of flood risk, particularly in a changing climate.

The ICA says the report underscores the importance of improved land-use planning, strengthening building codes to prioritise resilience, and increasing resilience investment to better protect communities from floods.

The report’s recommendation that the Commonwealth boost investment in extreme weather resilience initiatives parallels the Australian Local Government Association’s (ALGA) call for the Australian Government to provide $200 million a year for four years for a targeted disaster mitigation program.

Responding to ALGA’s advocacy in the lead-up to last month’s federal election, Labor promised it would establish a Disaster Ready Fund to invest $200 million every year on disaster preparation initiatives, including flood levees, sea walls, cyclone shelters, evacuation centres, fire breaks, and telecommunications improvements.