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NRMA Insurance hit with 30,000 claims from Queensland, NSW floods

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NRMA Insurance says autumn was its third worst season for wild weather home damage since 2015 as it received 25,000 home claims for weather damage – mostly in NSW – to make up 80% of all its home claims.

During the catastrophic record flooding in February and March, NRMA Insurance says it received 30,000 claims for damage to homes, property and vehicles in NSW and southeast Queensland between February 21 and March 9.

The IAG-owned brand singles out the impact severe weather is having each quarter in its Wild Weather Tracker and says its latest edition published today "shows the huge impact of severe weather during autumn”.

Since 2015, only the Black Summer of 2019/20 and summer 2018/19 produced more wild weather home claims in a season than autumn 2022, NRMA Insurance says.

EGM Direct Claims Luke Gallagher says a changing climate means wild weather will continue to be “a fact of life”.

"Every household can play a role in understanding how they can be better prepared for severe weather,” he said. “The recent flood crisis has strengthened Australians’ resolve for all levels of government to take action on climate change and disaster mitigation.”

The insurer broke down its March-May wild weather claims by state.

In NSW, 85% of all home claims were the result of severe weather (66% is typical in autumn) as NRMA Insurance received 22,405 such home claims: 19,170 for storm and 3,153 for flood.

It also received 12,673 or 26% of all motor claims for wild weather during autumn. Ballina recorded the greatest number of severe weather claims in NSW this autumn as the Northern Rivers dealt with the unprecedented flood crisis.

By region, Sydney’s upper north shore and Hornsby made up 7% of NRMA’s NSW severe weather home and motor claims, while the northern beaches, inner south west, Richmond-Tweed, Northern Rivers, north-west Sydney and Blue Mountains and Illawarra made up 5-to-6% each.

Baulkham Hills and Hawkesbury, Sydney’s outer south west and its south west all made up around 5% each.

In Queensland, the insurer says 65% of all home claims were the result of severe weather this autumn (typically 48%) as it received 1571 severe weather home claims - 89% for storm damage - to be its worst autumn in five years. That was on top of 5987 wild weather home claims recorded in summer when the flood crisis hit.

The Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Logan-Beaudesert were the hardest hit regions while Southport recorded the greatest number of severe weather home and motor claims of any Queensland town.

In WA, 42% of autumn home claims were due to severe weather (typically 52%) as 611 such claims were received, nearly all for storm damage. NRMA Insurance says 29% or 908 motor claims were also caused by severe weather. Dianella topped the state.

NRMA Meteorologist Bruce Buckley says the Kimberley, Pilbara, Gascoyne and WA interior are likely to experience increased bursts of unseasonal wet weather this winter due to warmer Indian Ocean temperatures.

“As WA’s northern and interior regions prepare for unseasonal wetter months ahead, as well as an increased risk of flash-flooding, the agricultural southwest of the state, including Perth, will likely be dryer than average due to a lower-than-normal number of cold fronts,” he said, adding that severe weather events can “materialise in just a matter of days or even hours”.

The Tracker found the percentage of Australians concerned about the severity and frequency of natural disasters has jumped to 77% from less than two thirds a year ago.

A third of Australians are worried that their communities are not resilient to wild weather and most want to see more action taken to prepare for the impacts of climate change, according to the May survey of 3500 people across NSW, Queensland, the ACT, SA and WA.

NRMA Insurance is urging that state and territories match the new Federal Government’s Disaster Ready Fund which has an annual $200 million commitment for disaster prevention and resilience initiatives.

Mr Gallagher recommends having an emergency plan and kit ready, regularly cleaning gutters, clearing overhanging branches and ensuring loose outdoor items are tied down.

“Water is a powerful force and once it gets into your home it can cause tremendous damage. We’re encouraging Australians to take simple steps around the home to be prepared,” he said.