More consultation needed to aid mitigation

More consultation needed to aid mitigation | Insurance Business

More consultation needed to aid mitigation

The fight for more disaster mitigation has been a long one in Australia.

Whether it is cyclones in Queensland or floods in New South Wales, the industry has long called for more to done to protect the nation from the threat of natural disaster.

Now, with disaster season in full swing, an industry leader has called for the insurance industry to be consulted more on a fundamental aspect of mitigation.

Peter Cheesman, head of Aon Benfield Analytics, told Insurance Business that the insurance industry should be called upon earlier in the process to help lessen the blow of natural disasters.

“At the planning level, there is so little consultation with the insurers when they are actually approving planning regulations, particularly for large developments. Therefore people are almost still taking the view that ‘it doesn’t matter, I’ll still be insured and they’ll pay’ for those impacts,” Cheesman said.

“There needs to be a lot more scrutiny placed on defence measures when it comes down to floods.

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“We still have local authorities approving buildings on floodplains and we are still not building the appropriate flood measures.”

Cheesman stressed that design standards for new buildings also need to change. Many structures, particularly in the tropical north, are built to withstand certain levels of wind but often when a cyclone hits, the wind does not cause damage.

The vast majority of claims that relate to cyclones, and indeed East Coast Lows that impact the country further south, are down to water damage or water ingress. Cheesman said that a change to design standards to ensure that window joints are secure, and changes to roofing structures around how external walls meet the roof would mean “a huge amount of change.”

The Australian industry has long called on the Government to increase and improve mitigation efforts in a bid to lower economic and societal costs following a natural disaster.

In the recently released Annual Global Climate and Catastrophe report, released by Aon Benfield, it was revealed that 2016 caused the highest amount of insured losses related to natural disasters for four years.

While the insurance industry continues to lobby Government to increase spending on mitigation efforts, Cheesman was quick to praise the industry for its disaster preparation and response.

“Overall I think the insurance industry in Australia has really stepped up its game in terms of helping and advising their clients,” Cheesman continued.

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