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East coast low losses reach $989 million: Perils

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An Australian east coast low which hit NSW and Queensland last February caused insurance losses of $989 million, Zurich catastrophe data company Perils says in a final estimate.

Losses have climbed from a previous $958 million estimate released six months after the event, which contributed to one of Australia’s worst summers for natural catastrophes.

Intense low pressure systems, classified as extratropical cyclones, can affect an area stretching from southeast Queensland to northeast Victoria and Perils says the February 5-13 catastrophe was a typical example.

“Today’s release constitutes the first complete schedule of reports produced by Perils for an Australian east coast low event and this final detailed industry loss footprint will help further enhance the insurance industry’s understanding of such losses,” Asia-Pacific Head Darryl Pidcock said.

The east coast has also experienced considerable rainfall and storms this summer due mainly to the influence of a La Nina weather pattern.

“This report is a reminder that in addition to bushfires, hailstorms and tropical cyclones, the east coast is also exposed to large-scale extratropical cyclone systems which can have a considerable impact on the insurance industry,” Mr Pidcock said.

About 88% of the losses from the February event were from NSW with southeast Queensland accounting for 11%. Property represented 94% of the damage and motor losses 6%, Perils says.

The industry loss report includes a detailed breakdown of property and motor losses by postcode, with the data divided by residential and commercial lines.

For residential property, the loss information is broken down by buildings, contents and business interruption losses, while damage degrees that show damage as a percentage of sums insured, as well as data on wind gusts and rainfall are being provided.

The Bureau of Meteorology says today that the current La Nina has peaked, but its wetter influence is likely to continue in the short term, with three-month climate outlooks indicating above-average rainfall is likely for parts of northern Australia.