Understand the risk? Or count the cost?
The importance of adequate flood cover.
According to Australian Geographic, between 1852 and 2011 the cost of flood damage reached an estimated $4.76 billion. Perhaps even more alarmingly was the impact of the devastating floods that inundated Brisbane and South-East Queensland in December 2010/January 2011. With more than 200,000 people and 28,000 properties affected, over 56,000 insurance claims were ultimately lodged with payouts totalling $2.38 billion. Five years on and many Queenslanders are still recovering, while some who weren’t suitably protected may never recover at all.
More recently, violent storms on 28 January 2016 led to flash flooding in Geelong inundating over 150 local properties and leading to yet another a multi-million dollar clean up bill. Described by the Bureau of Meteorology as a ‘once in 50 year’ event, the reality is floods of this nature are a fact of life across most regions of Australia and can devastate local communities and businesses in many ways, including economically.
Professor Jonathan Nott is a palaeohazards expert at James Cook University in Cairns. In 2012 he told Australian Geographic part of the problem is that we “continue to build in the path of floods,” regardless of history, and allow populations to increase in low-lying floodplains. While we are “very good at dealing with emergencies when they arise,” he said, “we are not so good at mitigating against disaster.”
According to the Insurance Council of Australia: “Inland flood is a significant issue in Australia, historically accounting for nearly one third of insured losses.” The Council also explains that since 2008 insurers have used government flood mapping data to build the ‘National Flood Information Database’, an initiative that now means flood cover is available based on specific addresses, not just postcodes. This has seen flood insurance availability grow from just 3% of policies in 2006 to 93% today.