The insurance industry suffered “peak” losses totalling $1.861 billion from the “Black Summer” of bushfires that devastated parts of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia between the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020.
Independent catastrophe research firm PERILS has revealed the final tally in its industry loss footprint report, which it based on loss data collected from the “vast majority of the Australian insurance market.” The figure also revises PERILS’ earlier loss estimate of $1.568 billion issued earlier in the year.
According to PERILS, the report 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 December 20, 2019, and January 06, 2020,” PERILS said in a statement. “For the majority of insurers, it is between December 30, 2019, and January 05, 2020.”
PERILS’ report comes six months after the worst Australian bushfire season on record, which impacted the entire continent and resulted in 34 fatalities and an estimated 18.6 million hectares of burnt land between September 2019 and March 2020.
Insurance losses during the New Year peak period were most severe in the state of New South Wales, accounting for 70% of the industry’s losses, followed by Victoria (17%) and South Australia (13%).
“The affected communities have been significantly impacted by these losses and are now facing additional pressures from the coronavirus pandemic,” said Darryl Pidcock, head of PERILS Asia-Pacific. “Our thoughts go out to those affected and we hope that they can rebuild their lives as soon as possible.”