Aussies not ready for wild summer weather

Suncorp warns an onslaught of looming wild weather this summer could blow out the nation’s natural disaster bill and cause insurance premiums to spike.

A survey conducted by the major insurer found one in two Australians are deeply concerned the country is not sufficiently prepared to cope with the incoming La Niña summer, which is expected to heighten the chance of hail storms, cyclones and floods.

The La Niña effect is weather phenomenon which brings more wet weather to the east coast of Australia.

Approximately 30 per cent of the 1500 respondents to Suncorp’s survey flagged Australia’s disaster preparation strategies for either a bushfire or storm are not adequate.

The financial group’s survey coincides in the same week the royal commission into Australia’s natural disaster management is expected to hand down its final report.

Interim observations from the royal commission has already highlighted a greater need for a nationally co-ordinated response to the country’s national disaster risk mitigation strategy.

The response is in light of last summer’s devastating bushfire season which killed 33 people and caused over $2 billion in insured losses.

Suncorp chief executive Steve Johnston said increasing extreme weather patterns will impact the affordability of insurance prices.

“As we brace for a La Niña summer, our nation is no better placed to withstand the impacts of extreme weather than we were last year,” Mr Johnston said.

“The nation’s natural disaster damage bill is having a large effect on the price of everyone’s insurance, so this is not something Australia can just kick down the road without addressing the root cause.”

Suncorp’s survey also flagged 46 per cent of respondents believe the coronavirus pandemic had overshadowed the existential threat of natural disasters. A further 38 per cent believe the health crisis has hindered Australia’s recovery from last summer’s bushfire damage.

Mr Johnston noted federal and state governments need to consider natural disaster risks when making decisions around planning and infrastructure.

“Our climate is changing so we need to be smarter about where and how we build our homes,” Mr Johnston said.

“We need governments around the country to make tough planning decisions and we need to lift the quality of our buildings through an expanded national construction code.”

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Sam Bell

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