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Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance

ICA, climate analyst trade barbs over 'uninsurable' claims

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The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) today reacted angrily to fresh warnings that climate change-fuelled extreme weather events will make hundreds of thousands of properties too risky to insure.

Spokesman Campbell Fuller took to LinkedIn to denounce “inflammatory reporting”, after the ABC published an article based on analysis from consultancy Climate Risk.

The new data suggests nearly 720,000 addresses, or one in 20, will be uninsurable by 2100 if global warming continues at its current rate.

About 350,000 properties are already regarded as uninsurable, Climate Risk Director of Science Karl Mallon told insuranceNEWS.com.au.

“Even though this information is challenging, it is better to be well prepared and to take a risk-averse approach than to just stay silent,” he said.

“We are taking a responsible position to inform communities about the risk in their suburbs that they may have no idea about.

“The insurance industry isn’t doing that so we see it as a responsible thing to do to try and engage communities and also encourage them to implement resilience measures ahead of an event.”

ICA disagrees, and took a fresh swipe at Climate Risk, which it accused earlier this year of “scaremongering” after similar data was released.

“It is important that extreme weather projections based on climate change models are agreed upon and understood by all relevant stakeholders before they are used in a way that may unnecessarily scare householders and businesses, disrupt communities and lead to poor decisions and outcomes,” Mr Fuller said in a statement today.

“Fee-based commercial climate change tools that aim to provide information about future risks must be based on transparent methods and data.

“This would allow community members to understand relevant limitations in the projections and make more informed decisions.”

He adds the industry “is investing in the development of transparent risk tools for climate change, based on centuries of underwriting expertise and extreme weather knowledge”.

The ABC claims that comments provided by Mr Fuller for its story are “out of line” with ICA President Richard Enthoven’s speech at last week’s National Insurance Brokers Association Convention.

Mr Fuller told the ABC that “claims that parts of Australia will become uninsurable or unaffordable are irresponsible”.

As previously reported by insuranceNEWS.com.au, Mr Enthoven said climate change “may make certain regions more exposed to storm, flood or bushfire, thereby potentially making parts of Australia uninsurable”.

Mr Fuller’s statement today stresses that mitigation is key to preventing areas becoming uninsurable, objecting to suggestions that such an outcome will happen, or is “inevitable”.

“No area of Australia should be uninsurable, provided governments invest appropriately in permanent mitigation and resilience measures to protect communities from known and projected risks, including the impact of climate change,” he said.

This same point was made by Mr Enthoven last week, when he said that the result of effective mitigation is that “the uninsurable becomes insurable again and insurance prices fall”.