Tropical storms to become more severe as the climate changes; ICA calls for stronger building codes and retrofitting programs

Australia’s properties are not resilient to tropical cyclone hazards, which are expected to become more severe as the climate changes. This is according to a new report from the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA).

The insurance claims cost for tropical cyclones since 1967 stands at $23 billion, and Cyclone Tracey remains Australia’s costliest natural disaster with a $5.5 billion insurance bill (figs normalised to 2017 values).

The report draws on industry-wide policy and claims data from recent tropical cyclones in North Queensland, with a combined claims cost of $3.83 billion, and incorporates the damage report from Western Australia’s Tropical Cyclone Seroja earlier this year.

According to ICA CEO Andrew Hall: ”At present no region in Australia is uninsurable, however if the severity of extreme weather events increases as predicted it is possible some regions may become difficult to insure in the future.”

”Implementation of stronger building codes and retrofitting programs, improved land-use planning, and permanent physical mitigation measures, where necessary, will be key to ensuring an insurable Australia.”

Prepared for the ICA by James Cook University Cyclone Testing Station in association with Risk Frontiers, the Tropical Cyclones and Future Risks report outlines the changes required to building codes and construction standards to improve the cyclone resilience of new homes, and calls for greater investment in the retrofitting of old homes to protect property and lives.

A key recommendation of the report is that Australia’s National Construction Code considers resilience in all new property construction to reduce the damage, loss and disruption to communities caused by cyclones.

The report Climate Change Impact Series: Tropical Cyclones and Future Risks is the second in the ICA’s Climate Change Impact Series, and follows a report released last month on the impact of actions of the sea.