Though the bushfires in Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) – the country’s worst-hit state – have finally been contained, the insured losses continue to mount – jumping to A$2 billion (US$1.34 billion).
The figures continue to rise and the cost will likely soon exceed Australia’s Ash Wednesday – the most expensive bushfire in terms of insured losses in history at A$2.3 billion (US$1.54 billion); the fires burned over 500,000 acres and destroyed 3,700 buildings in 1983.
The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) provided the most recent loss figures on February 14, which recorded 23,363 claims since November. The ICA’s first declaration of a bushfire catastrophe was in September 2019.
On February 13, Australian officials announced that all bushfires in NSW had been contained. The reining in of the catastrophic bushfires, which have been burning since last June, has been helped by Australia’s recent weeks of torrential rain.
Last week saw Cyclone Uesi moving off the country’s east coast; and the prior week saw Cyclone Damien make landfall on the west coast, a storm that brought significant rainfall that helped to extinguish fires. The storms also brought high winds, flooding and related property damage, of which the ICA has alreadu received 10,000 claims worth A$45 million (US$30 million).
As Australia has seen no respite from extreme weather — last month also brought significant hailstorms accompanied by thunderstorms and heavy rainfall — the market will continue to adjust and prioritise climate risks.
The country’s insurers are expected to take significant hits to their cat exposures this financial year but should bounce back given their sophisticated reinsurance and quota share arrangements.

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