Event is the largest flood loss on record for the Australian insurance industry, exceeding the 2011 Brisbane floods

PERILS’ initial estimate of the insured market loss, based on loss data collected from the majority of the Australian insurance market, is $4 billion. The loss number covers property and motor hull lines of business.

Darryl Pidcock, head of PERILS Asia-Pacific, commented: “This event is the largest flood loss on record for the Australian insurance industry, exceeding the record Brisbane floods of 2011.

”It was a very complex weather event from a meteorological perspective with changing weather systems during the loss period. The resulting damage from pluvial and river flooding was considerable, especially for South-East Queensland and the northern regions of New South Wales. 

”Given the complexity of the weather systems, the application of event definition clauses for reinsurance purposes will vary across the market.

”Such clauses can include meteorological conditions and/or loss aggregation periods, such as the 168-hours clause, which means that there is no common market standard applied to the losses. Given these factors, the losses from this event have been reported by PERILS as one single insurance event.”

From 23 February to 8 March 2022, the east coast of Australia experienced an extended period of heavy rainfall resulting in major river and surface water flooding. This was due initially to a monsoon trough which developed in the South-East Queensland and northern New South Wales regions.

This trough was blocked by a high-pressure system near New Zealand and remained stationary, causing considerable rainfall and associated flooding across the regions affected during the last week of February.

The monsoon trough then moved southwards and developed into an East Coast Low in early March, supported by a strong jet stream at higher altitudes. 

Another East Coast Low developed towards the end of the first week of March bringing onshore moisture and heavy rainfall to the New South Wales coast.