Community resilience to flood can improve, new report finds


News release

A new report released today by the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has found current land-use planning rules are not properly protecting Australians from worsening flood risk but can be improved.

Estimates show more than one million private properties, or about one in 10 homes, have some level of flood risk in Australia.

Revealed in the third of ICA’s Climate Change Impact report series, Flooding and Future Risks, the report identifies the need for an overhaul of the rules governing how and where new homes are built.

It notes as the climate continues to warm existing flood zones are likely to expand and expose more property and assets.

While the report focuses on modern homes (built post-2000) and managing flood risk to new development, it also identifies important measures to mitigate the risk of flood in established areas, such as investing in levees and floodways.

The report, which draws on analysis conducted by James Cook University Cyclone Testing Station in association with Risk Frontiers, leverages data from thousands of flood claims covering four recent flood events.

The report finds that:

Current land use planning settings and associated building controls do not eliminate flood risk to modern properties

The current building code does not consider building resilience to flood risk

There are key data gaps that prevent insurers and homeowners from building an accurate picture of flood risk, particularly in a changing climate.

The report identifies flooding as one of the costliest extreme weather events in Australia.

The total cost of floods, from river flooding and high intensity rainfall, since ICA records began in 1970 is in excess of $21.3 billion.

The cost of this year’s floods across south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales is estimated to be $3.346 billion, making it Australia’s costliest flood ever.

The report references analysis by financial actuary consultancy Finity for the Insurance Council, proposing a five-year $2 billion Federal Government resilience investment program to better protect Australians from flood as well as cyclones, bushfire and coastal risks.

Quote attributable to ICA CEO Andrew Hall:

This report again underscores the need to make better decisions in land use planning, building standards and government investment in mitigation works if we are going to end this cycle of flood impacts on homes and businesses in Australia.

Addressing the risks identified in this report will play a key role in better protecting communities in the face of worsening flooding and help improve access to affordable insurance coverage.

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