PERILS estimates AU$1.4bn industry loss for Australia Christmas storms

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Zurich-based catastrophe insurance data provider PERILS AG has disclosed its initial industry loss estimate for the Australia Christmas storms which affected the states of Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland, pegging the total at AU$1.395 billion ($903 million).

perils-ag-logoPERILS noted that this initial estimate is based on loss data collected from the majority of the Australian insurance market and covers the property and motor hull lines of business.

Outlining the particulars of the event, PERILS said that From 23 to 29 December 2023, the aforementioned states in Eastern Australia experienced a “prolonged period of severe convective storm activity” with large hail, intense winds, flash floods, and tornadoes.

“The extreme weather was driven by a low-pressure system over southeastern Australia which was
blocked by a high-pressure system over the northern Tasman Sea. As the low intensified, its cold front pushed into warm and humid air masses over the East Coast of Australia, leading to the formation of numerous convective storm cells and intense thunderstorms,” PERILS explained.

There were a total of 10 fatalities, most as a result of drowning or tree fall accidents.

Darryl Pidcock, Head of PERILS Asia-Pacific, commented, “Australia experienced a relatively benign 2023 compared to more recent years from a natural catastrophe perspective. The 2023 Christmas Storms were the largest Cat loss for the Australian insurance industry for the calendar year.

“They concluded a record year of severe convective storm losses for the global insurance industry. However, for Australia, this event is not unusual when compared to the South-East Queensland Hailstorms (“Halloween Storm”) of October 2020 (AUD 1,222m at the time) or the January 2020 Hailstorms (AUD 1,887 at the time).

“Furthermore, the severe convective storms which hit Victoria yesterday [13 February] serve as a timely reminder of the industry’s exposure to this atmospherical peril.”

In related news, at the end of January, the Insurance Council of Australia disclosed its first insured loss estimate for ex-Tropical Cyclone Jasper and the Christmas and New Year storms, anticipating the costs from these events to exceed $743 million.

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