An independent study has recommended that strata-title properties in Tropical Queensland undergo regular engineering inspections to ensure these are resistant to future extreme weather events, and to improve understanding of the buildings’ potential performance during these events.
The study, by James Cook University’s Cyclone Testing Station and commissioned by the ICA, found that undertaking a specialist engineering inspection of the building conducted every seven to 10 years, will help strata owners and strata managers address any vulnerabilities that might exist, and has the potential for a reduction in insurance premiums and excess due to lower risk.
It also recommended developing an awareness program to highlight maintenance issues such as information on appropriate paint coatings and treatments of timber, well-maintained and installed roof cladding and roof edges, additional locks or bolts on doors and windows, and removing and storing shade cloth structures prior to a cyclone event.
The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA), which commissioned the study, said it is prepared to provide insurance expertise and advice to any government project aimed at developing an inspection regime that focuses on assisting strata owners in Far North Queensland.
A final key proposal is a new study on water ingress from wind driven rain as this has been identified as key factor in insurance claims. To minimise the risk, the study would seek a greater understanding of the relationship of rain intensity and wind gusts on strata title property and identify economic solutions to reduce the amount of damage from water ingress.
ICA CEO Rob Whelan said the study found the age of a property had less influence on claims than factors such as water ingress from wind-driven rain and the compounding effect that damage to ancillary items, such as television aerials and fences, could have on buildings.
“The combination of high winds and driving rains typical of cyclones mean that water can find its way through doors and windows, while damage to a TV aerial or to guttering can leave a roof exposed to water and further damage to the interior of a property,” he said.
More than 80% of claims investigated noted some form of damage from water ingress.
The study also found larger, multi-storey buildings have a higher incidence of claims and higher claims costs than low-rise buildings. This is because they have more windows and doors exposed to weather events.
“The fact is properties in Tropical Queensland are exposed to a much higher cyclone risk of damage to life and property than most of the rest of Australia,” said Whelan.
“Where the risk is higher this is generally reflected in higher insurance premiums. However, the ICA and the insurance industry are committed to working with governments and communities to reduce these risks where possible.”
The three-month study examined strata building risks from cyclonic weather by reviewing policy claims data from a number of insurers. The focus of the study was on policies active in 2010 and 2011, and claims data from those associated with 2011’s Cyclone Yasi.
To read the full report click here.