Will wild weather push premiums higher?

Many states have suffered severe spring weather and a stronger cyclone season is on its way. What will this mean for our home insurance premiums?

Spring 2016 has so far been a season of wild weather for many parts of Australia, hitting us with strong winds, flooding, widespread blackouts and even some tornadoes.

Most of the action has taken place over late September and early October, with South Australia notably copping the biggest battering.

But as we head into cyclone season, the weather could get worse.

BOM: Above average cyclone season ahead

According to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), Australians should brace for a more active tropical cyclone season in 2016-17.

Climate Prediction Services Manager Dr Andrew Watkins said this is because of the Pacific Ocean’s weaker La Niña conditions.

“This year we’re experiencing warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures around northern Australia, and this will help to fuel the tropical cyclone season ahead,” he said.

“History shows that in an average season, about eleven cyclones form in the Australian region between November and April. On average, four of these will make landfall.”

Last year recorded the lowest number of tropical cyclones on record (three, with only one hitting land), but Dr Watkins said it is highly unlikely we’ll get a cyclone season as quiet this year.

Will premiums rise?

So with a stronger cyclone season coming up, insurers might expect to pay out even more claims on top of the millions of dollars they already forked out over spring.

Does that mean homeowners might be facing much higher premiums over the next 12 months?

Not according to CANSTAR’s Research Manager, Mitchell Watson, who says lower reinsurance costs are keeping home insurance premiums down in Australia

Reinsurance is basically insurance for local insurers, provided by international insurance companies. When reinsurance costs are lower for local insurers, Australians are less likely to see higher premiums.

According to Mr Watson, reinsurance costs have come down over the last 12 months.

“As a result of the lower reinsurance costs, Australians are likely to only see modest changes in their premiums for home and contents insurance over the next 12 months, even with the severe weather that’s recently occurred throughout the country,” he said.

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Wild Spring Weather: State-by-state

Here are some examples across all the states of what we’ve just been through:

South Australia

September 15 – Floods in Adelaide

  • 80 homes damaged or inundated by flood waters
  • Premier Jay Weatherill said families affected could be eligible for $700 in relief funding as well as $700 in clean-up grants.

September 28 – A ‘once in 50-year’ storm cell hit:

  • State-wide blackout after transmission lines south of Port Augusta blew over

  • Roofs and verandas were blown off houses in the town of Blyth

October 4 – Another storm and more floods

  • Five homes south of Adelaide damaged
  • Floods in Adelaide hills

Victoria

October 5-8 – Floods across north-east of state

  • Up to 75 homes in Myrtleford lost the power to flush their toilets
  • 350 residents in Wangaratta ordered to evacuate evacuated

October 9 – Wind storm strikes Melbourne and the Dandenong ranges:

  • 1,200 trees brought down, 500 fell on buildings
  • A woman in Millgrove was killed after a tree fell on her house
  • More than 100,000 homes lost power

Tasmania

September 20 – Flash flooding in Huon Valley and parts of Hobart

  • SES received almost 70 calls for assistance
  • One family in Huonville had to be air rescued

October 9Destructive winds tear through the state:

  • Fallen trees cut off power supply to more than 1000 homes
  • Roof blown off an Eastern Shore high school

NSW & ACT

September 15 – October 10 – Floods in central-west

  • Farming towns of Forbes and Condoblin hit hardest
  • 750 insurance claims from the Forbes region

October 4 – Gale force winds

  • Gusts of up to 100km/h ripped through parts of NSW and the ACT, leaving around 10,000 homes and businesses without power
  • Dozens of trees felled in Canberra
  • Cootamundra high school in the Riverina area had its roof blown off

WA

October 1 – Severe storm in south-west

  • 24,000 properties blacked out after winds brought trees onto powerlines

QLD

October 3 – Severe storm in south-east

  • 10,000 homes without power
  • Roof ripped from one home.

NT

September – Wettest September on record for NT

  • September had more than five times the average rainfall
  • Jabiru and Bulman experienced their wettest September day ever on the 19th

 

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