The figures were released six months after the worst Australian bushfire season on record, known as the ‘Black Summer’ - PERILS

The Australian bushfires of 2019/2020 cost insurance companies A$1.86 billion, according to PERILS AG. The detailed loss data covers the peak period for the bushfires, which occurred during the turn of the year. It compares to PERILS’ earlier loss estimate of A$1.57 billion.

The figures are released six months after the worst Australian bushfire season on record, known as the ‘Black Summer’. It affected the entire continent and resulted in 34 fatalities and an estimated 18.6 million hectares of burnt land between September 2019 and March 2020.

Insurance losses during the New Year peak period were most severe in the state of New South Wales, accounting for 70% of the industry loss, followed by Victoria (17%) and South Australia (13%).

As a result of the bushfires, the Federal Government established the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements in February 2020 to examine the bushfire recovery and coordination efforts, as well as to recommend improvements for future response and recovery coordination. 

Darryl Pidcock, head of PERILS Asia-Pacific, commented: “This industry loss footprint is the first time PERILS has reported a bushfire event in Australia at such a detailed resolution… The affected communities have been significantly impacted by these losses and are now facing additional pressures from the coronavirus pandemic. Our thoughts go out to those affected and we hope that they can rebuild their lives as soon as possible.”

The industry loss report includes a detailed breakdown of property and motor losses by postcode, with the data further divided by residential and commercial lines. Loss amounts are provided for buildings, contents and business interruption. 

The fire intensity metrics per postcode are based on satellite data. They can be used for correlation analysis of observed damage degrees and for deriving vulnerability functions to model bushfire risk in Australia.

An updated estimate of the industry loss from the Australian bushfires will be made available by PERILS on 6 January 2021, one year after the event’s end date.