Nowhere uninsurable if climate mitigation & resilience measures taken: Insurance Council

Bush fires across eastern Australia in November 2019, viewed from a satellite. Photo: NASA.

The Insurance Council of Australia has responded to claims that parts of the country could be uninsurable or unaffordable by the end of the century because of the consequences of climate change.

It follows reports of a consultant’s analysis claiming hundreds of thousands of properties would be uninsurable by 2100 if emissions keep rising, and a Climate Council study which listed Local Government Areas similarly at risk.

The Insurance Council’s Head of Communications and Media Relations, Campbell Fuller, said communities should be encouraged to lower risks, and it supports the need for well-coordinated and prudent action on climate change.

“No area of Australia should be uninsurable, provided governments invest appropriately in permanent mitigation and resilience measures to protect communities from known and projected risks, including the impact of climate change,” he said.

“It is important that extreme weather projections based on climate change models are agreed upon and understood by all relevant stakeholders before they are used in a way that may unnecessarily scare householders and businesses, disrupt communities and lead to poor decisions and outcomes.”

The Insurance Council’s public statement on climate change lists efforts including managing risk, raising awareness of disaster preparedness in communities, improving disaster response and recovery, and working with governments, regulators and others to promote action.

Last month, following advocacy by the Australian Local Government Association and others, the Coalition and Opposition agreed to lift the Commonwealth’s proposed Emergency Response Fund to $200 million a year from $150m, with the extra funding dedicated to adaptation.

ALGA has for several years advocated for targeted mitigation funding, including a submission to a Senate inquiry which emphasised that new legislation to create a natural disasters emergency response fund ought to focus on adaptation measures before a calamity occurs, rather than only on recovery.

ALGA President, Mayor David O’Loughlin, said the Commonwealth’s decision was welcome and was a testament to the strong, persistent advocacy of ALGA.

“ALGA has long called for the establishment of a targeted disaster mitigation program at a level of $200 million per annum for four years,” President O’Loughlin said in October.

“We know that this extra money from the Commonwealth will make a real difference to communities as they try to reduce the consequences ahead of the next natural disaster.”

The Commonwealth’s decision acts on proposals from ALGA and other inquiry respondents, including the Insurance Council of Australia, which called for a $200 million per year adaptation fund that the Productivity Commission said in 2014 was needed.

Image shows bush fires across eastern Australia in November 2019. Credit: NASA