Insurance Council of Australia calls for all new homes to be cyclone proof in face of climate change

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Caitlyn RintoulThe West Australian
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Destruction from Cyclone Seroja in Western Australia. The Railway Tavern in Northampton.
Camera IconDestruction from Cyclone Seroja in Western Australia. The Railway Tavern in Northampton. Credit: 7NEWS/7NEWS

All Australian homes need to be cyclone proof to combat more severe and southward driven weather events prompted by climate change, a new Insurance Council of Australia report has found.

The council’s report has detailed gaps in the current national construction code and associated standards, claiming they must consider tropical cyclone resilience for all new homes.

It comes after severe tropical Cyclone Seroja left a trail of damage in April when it ripped across a 1000km stretch of WA.

The Mid West coast experienced the most damage, with properties in the towns of Kalbarri and Northampton destroyed — as well as Carnarvon’s heritage-listed One Mile Jetty.

The council’s report drew on industry-wide policy as well as claims data from recent tropical cyclones in North Queensland — which netted a combined claims cost of $3.83 billion.

The report also includes the damage report from Seroja.

The council’s chief executive Andrew Hall said a key recommendation of the report was that Australia’s national construction code needs to consider resilience in “all new property construction” to reduce the damage, loss and disruption to communities caused by cyclones.

Kalbarri suffered major damage when ex Tropical Cyclone Seroja hit on Sunday night
Camera IconKalbarri suffered major damage when Cyclone Seroja hit. Credit: Kirby Beck/Kirby Beck

“If the severity of extreme weather events increases as predicted, it is possible some regions may become difficult to insure in the future. At present no region in Australia is uninsurable,” Mr Hall said.

“Australia’s modern houses are not resilient to the tropical cyclone hazard of today.

“Implementation of stronger building codes and retrofitting programs, improved land-use planning, and permanent physical mitigation measures, where necessary, will be key to ensuring an insurable Australia.”

The report examined houses built post-2000 and those built prior to the 1980s that may need to be retrofitted to better protect lives and finances.

In November, homeowners who suffered damage from Cyclone Seroja were allowed to access up to $20,000 in recovery grants, as part of the $104 million joint Commonwealth-State disaster funding arrangement.

The total insurance claims cost of tropical cyclones in Australia since 1967 has been $23 billion.

Cyclone Tracey remains Australia’s costliest natural disaster with a $5.5 billion insurance bill.

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