One in every 10 homes in Australia faces flood risks: latest ICA report

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has released a new report advising important measures to mitigate the risk of flood, which it estimates to affect more than 1 million properties in Australia.  

Written on 11 May, 2022
Amy Cai

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has released a new report advising important measures to mitigate the risk of flood, which it estimates to affect more than 1 million properties in Australia.  

The report has identified flooding as one of Australia’s costliest extreme weather events, with total cost of floods since ICA records began in 1970 now estimated to be more than $21.3 billion.  

The ICA has flagged the importance of introducing new measures for protecting new and existing homes.  

Key ICA findings: 

1. Current land use planning rules and building controls do not adequately protect properties from flood risk 

Standards generally require for new housing not to be located within a 1-in-100 AEP flood hazard area, defined as an area with a 1% chance of a flood occurring in the next year and a 50% chance of flooding within 70 years. However, as the climate continues to change, existing flood zones will likely expand and expose more properties to possibility of flooding.  

The ICA recommends new developments to consider the likelihood of possible flood events beyond the 100-year AEP, and account for future climate projections expected over a full lifetime.  

2. The current building code does not consider building resilience to flood risk 

Existing building standards focus on preventing the collapse of the building in a flood event, and do not provide guidance on ensuring the liveability of the house in terms after the event.  

The ICA recommends that these guides are revised with improved design standards and criteria to improve the building’s functionality after recovering from a flood.  

The ICA also claims that mitigation strategies for improving flood resilience of a home have not been effective in reducing the cost of insurance losses and premiums.  

Despite meeting building standards, modern developments affected by the Townsville flood event have required costly flood repairs, which have led to high and at times unaffordable premiums.  

As such, the ICA recommends that Australian building codes and standards are revised to prioritise resilience as the principal underpinning design standards, thereby reducing the cost of flood repairs.   

3. There are considerable data and risk assessment gaps that need to be addressed 

The ICA has identified several data gaps in flood data, such as the availability of studies coherently capturing long-term data points and flood data not made freely and publicly available.  

The lack of analytical data has resulted in considerable challenges in accurately reconstructing flood depths and calculating property impact.  

The ICA recommends for more fixed and ongoing flood gauges and surveys to ensure key data is being captured, and for the creation of free databases to capture and store flood data.  

 

For more information, visit the Insurance Council of Australia website at insurancecouncil.com.au, or read the Council’s recently released Climate Change Impact report ‘Flooding and Future Risks’.