Industry warns of risk from severe weather events at "bushfire" royal commission hearing

Expert urges improved collection of data to better understand the risks

Industry warns of risk from severe weather events at "bushfire" royal commission hearing

Insurance News

By Duffie Osental

Insurance professionals warned of more severe weather events during the first day of witness hearings for the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison formed the “bushfire commission” in response to the deadly bushfires that swept across large parts of Australia last summer. Morrison said that the commission intends to “learn from the ‘Black Summer’ bushfires how nationally we can work better with the states and territories to better protect and equip Australians for living in hotter, drier and longer summers.”

Mark Leplastrier, executive manager natural perils at insurance giant IAG, told the commission that changing weather patterns from climate change may result in more severe weather events, such as tropical cyclones.

“Our assessment is that, while tropical cyclones may decline in numbers overall for our region, we believe that more intense cyclones will become more frequent,” said Leplastrier. “There's also, we believe, a broadening of the areas affected by cyclones… meaning that places that are on the fringe of cyclone activity, like southeast Queensland or northeast New South Wales, are going to increasingly be exposed to cyclones going forward.

Leplastier also warned of a “higher frequency” of severe hailstorms in Australia’s southern regions.

Meanwhile, Sharanjit Paddam, the convenor of the Actuaries Institute of Australia’s climate change working group, told the commission that there is a crucial need to improve the collection of weather-related data to better understand the impact of future extreme weather patterns.

“There’s a range of areas where we can improve the observational data,” said Paddam. “Improved weather stations would be very helpful for that.”

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