US$1.3bn market loss at peak of Australia’s bushfires: Perils

July 7 2020 by Yvonne Lau

New data from catastrophe data provider Perils says Australia’s market loss (for property and motor) during the peak of the 2019/2020 bushfires reached A$1.86 billion (US$1.3 billion).

Perils collected detailed property and motor loss data from the “vast majority of the Australian insurance market,” says the provider.

The data was taken during the peak of the bushfires — a seven-day loss period which differs among insurers but generally lies between December 20 2019 to January 6 2020. 70% of the losses happened in New South Wales during this time.

The providers’ previous aggregate bushfire loss estimate stood at A$1.56 billion (US$1.08 billion).

Darryl Pidcock, head of Perils Asia Pacific, commented: “By providing the bushfire loss data and intensity information on a postcode level, we believe this can help the insurance industry better understand the impact of future bushfire events.”

Pidcock added that the affected communities have been “significantly impacted by these losses — and are now facing additional pressures from the coronavirus pandemic.”

Perils’ new 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, while additional granular information including fire intensity metrics and mean damage ratios are also made available,” said an official release. 

Australia’s bushfire season of 2019/2020 was the worst on record, known as the ‘Black Summer.’

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA)’s most recent figures show the bushfires became the season’s largest loss event. They brought 38,181 claims and estimated insured losses of A$2.32 billion (US$1.52 billion). The country’s nat cat bill over the 2019 / 2020 summer season from four extreme weather events climbed to a total A$5.19 billion (US$3.52 billion).

As a result of the fires, the government launched the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements (Bushfire Royal Commission). For more on the Commission’s findings, see here.

Perils will also release an updated loss report on January 6 2021 — one year after the catastrophe end date.

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