PERILS, the independent Zurich-based organisation providing industry-wide catastrophe insurance data, has released the industry loss footprint for the Australian bushfires of 2019-2020, the first to provide detailed property and motor loss data at postcode level for this peril in Australia.
The industry loss data cover the peak period for the bushfires which occurred during the turn of the year and amount to a total of A$1,861m ($1,296m). The figure is based on detailed loss data collected from the vast majority of the Australian insurance market.

It compares to PERILS’ earlier loss estimates of A$1,568m which were issued on 17 February and 6 April 2020, respectively – due to the industry challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

PERILS says in a statement that it did not carry out a second round of data collection prior to issuing its report on 6 April and so the estimate was unchanged.

The industry loss footprint applies the dominant event definition clause used in the Australian re/insurance market and covers the peak losses which occurred within a period of 168 consecutive hours (seven days) on Australian territory. The peak seven-day loss period differs among insurers but generally lies between 20 December 2019 and 6 January 2020. For the majority of insurers, it is between 30 December 2019 and 5 January 2020.

The 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.

PERILS is the only loss reporting agency that provides insured loss data at this level of resolution and this is the first time it is available for bushfires in Australia. The fire intensity metrics per postcode are based on satellite data.

The worst Australian bushfire season on record affected the entire continent and resulted in 34 fatalities and an estimated 18.6m ha of burnt land between September 2019 and March 2020.


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