Uninsurable nation: Australia’s most climate-vulnerable places

Climate change, driven by the burning of coal, oil and gas, is supercharging our weather systems. While climate change affects all Australians, the risks are not shared equally. In the most extreme cases, areas can become uninhabitable.

Worsening extreme weather conditions are driving up the costs of maintaining, repairing and replacing property – our homes, workplaces and commercial buildings. As the risk of being hit by extreme weather events increases, insurers will increase premiums to cover the increased cost of claims and reinsurance.

Insurance will become increasingly unaffordable or unavailable in large parts of Australia due to worsening extreme weather conditions.

This report outlines the 20 federal voters most at risk from extreme weather events related to climate change, providing a brief profile of the top 10. The report also outlines the most at-risk voters for each state and territory. Check our climate risk map to see if your area is at risk.

Main conclusions

1. Climate change is creating an insurability crisis in Australia due to worsening extreme weather conditions and soaring insurance premiums.

  • Worsening extreme weather conditions are driving up the costs of maintaining, repairing and replacing property – our homes, workplaces and commercial buildings. As the risk of being affected by extreme weather events increases, insurers are increasing premiums to cover the increased cost of claims and reinsurance.
  • The Climate Council has compiled a ranking of the 10 voters most at risk from climate change and extreme weather events (covering bushfires, extreme winds and different types of flooding), based on the percentage of properties “ high risk” in every federal electorate across Australia.
  • Across Australia, around 520,940 properties, or one in 25, will be at “high risk”, with annual damage costs from extreme weather and climate change making them effectively uninsurable by 2030. Additionally, 9% of properties (1 in 11) will achieve ‘medium risk’ classification by 2030, with annual damage costs equivalent to 0.2-1% of the property’s replacement cost. These properties are at risk of becoming underinsured.

2. Climate change affects all Australians, but some federal electorates face far greater risks than others.

  • The top 10 most at-risk federal voters by 2030 are:
    – 1. Nicholls (Vic)
    – 2. Richmond (New South Wales)
    – 3. Maranoa (QLD)
    – 4. Moncrieff (QLD),
    – 5. Wright (QLD),
    – 6. Brisbane (QLD),
    – 7. Griffith (QLD),
    – 8. Indian (Vic)
    – 9. Page (New South Wales) and
    – 10. Hindmarsh (SA).
  • In these at-risk ridings, 15% of properties (165,646), or about one in seven properties, will be uninsurable this decade.
  • In the Nicholls constituency of Victoria, which covers the Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Campaspe, Greater Shepparton, Moira and parts of Strathbogie and Mitchell, 26.5% of properties will be uninsurable by 2030. In the LGA of Greater Shepparton it is up to half (56% of properties), and almost 90% in the locality of Shepparton.
  • By 2030, 40 federal electorates across Australia will have 4% of properties classified as ‘high risk’. Eighteen of those electorates (or 45%) are in Queensland. Queensland’s five most at-risk voters are: Maranoa, Moncrieff, Wright, Brisbane and Griffith.
  • The percentage of properties that will be uninsurable by 2030 in each state and territory is 6.5% in Queensland; 3.3% in New South Wales; 3.2% in South Australia; 2.6% in Victoria; 2.5% in the Northern Territory; 2.4% in Western Australia; 2% in Tasmania and 1.3% in the ACT.

3. River flooding is the costliest disaster in Australia.

  • River flooding poses the greatest risk to properties. Among properties classified as uninsurable by 2030, 80% of this risk is due to river flooding.
  • Bushfires and surface water flooding (sometimes called flash floods) are the other major escalation risks that will render properties uninsurable by 2030.
  • The five constituencies most at risk from river flooding are: Nicholls in Victoria, Richmond in New South Wales (including the towns of Ballina, Bangalow, Brunswick Heads, Byron Bay, Hastings Point, Kingscliff, Lennox Head, Mullumbimby and Tweed Heads ), and Maranoa (in rural South West Queensland, including the towns of Roma, Stanthorpe, Winton and Warwick), Brisbane and Moncrieff in Queensland (part of the Gold Coast).
  • Across Australia, 2.5% of properties (360,691 properties) will be at ‘high risk’ of river flooding by 2030, with a further 372,684 at ‘medium risk’ of river flooding.

4. The decisions and actions of this next government mandate will influence the future impacts of climate change for generations to come.

  • Unfortunately, over the past eight years the federal government has failed to meaningfully address climate change or prepare Australians for worsening extreme weather.
  • A key test for all candidates in the upcoming federal election is whether they support policies that drive deep emissions reductions by the 2020s, aligned with limiting the average global temperature rise well into below 2°C.
  • There is also an urgent need to increase investment in domestic funding for adaptation and disaster risk reduction to help Australians better prepare for worsening extreme weather events.

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