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Climate Council warns of ‘shocks’ cascading to insurance

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The Climate Council has warned rising greenhouse gas emissions will cause shocks that cascade through the economy, hitting sectors including insurance and property.

Insurance premiums may be “effectively unaffordable” for one in every 19 Australian property owners by 2030 if global emissions keep rising on a business-as-usual trajectory, a report released last week says.

Properties near rivers and coastlines are particularly in danger, with flood risks rising and coastal inundation emerging as a major threat about 2050, while the proportion of properties at risk of insurance unaffordability is estimated to reach 6.6%, or one in 15, by 2100.

“Effectively unaffordable” is defined as an average annual risk cost equivalent to 1% or more of the property value. That excludes contents, consequential losses and events such as burglary and house fires.

The modelling is based on the highest emissions scenario from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and highlights the substantial costs associated with climate change inaction, the report says.

The Insurance Council of Australia has said it does not believe any part of Australia will become uninsurable, though risk rating may mean high premiums in some areas.

Risk Frontiers GM Resilience Andrew Gissing notes the report’s analysis is based on the most extreme IPCC scenario and assumes hazards currently excluded from cover – and which are seemingly very significant future loss drivers – are incorporated into policies.

“Given the uncertainty around future economic, social and climatic conditions it is essential that the uncertainty of any future impact forecasts are appreciated when forecasting over long time horizons,” he told insuranceNEWS.com.au. “Any climate policy response would need to have assessed the outcomes across a range of future scenarios.”

The Climate Council is a crowdfunded organisation that provides information from scientists and experts. It was formed in 2013 after the Federal Government ceased funding the Climate Commission.