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Cyclone expert shares maintenance advice

The Australian Insurance Law Association (AILA) says James Cook University Adjunct Associate Professor Geoff Boughton will be part of a panel session on mitigating climate risks at this year’s AIDA XVI World Insurance Congress Australia (WICA 2023).  

AILA says Dr Boughton, who is a senior research engineer at the university’s Cyclone Testing Station, will provide insights into recent cyclone research aimed at improving building practices and reducing costs associated with strong wind events.  

Dr Boughton stresses home maintenance as a critical focus to minimise cyclone risk.

“Insurance helps smooth the path for post-disaster recovery, but mitigation is about avoiding the risk in the first place and the two work well together,” Dr Boughton said.  

He says protections, such as upgrading roof tie-downs, can help homeowners save thousands of dollars from costs that may come from severe cyclones.

He says insurers and brokers should advise homeowners to treat property maintenance in a similar way to vehicle maintenance.  

“Few of us would drive a car that’s been in an accident without it being checked out, even if it seems OK,” Dr Boughton said.

“The same applies with buildings. A builder or engineer should check whether the main structural elements are still working well, particularly if there has been a recent significant wind event.”

But he admits that incentivising homeowners to invest in better protection is a “really tricky problem,” and notes the impact of schemes such as the Queensland Government’s Household Resilience Program.  
He says other incentives can also come from improving homeowner education about the importance of wind protection, noting the effects of peer pressure on homeowners who see neighbours purchasing safeguards.  

AILA says Dr Boughton will be joined on the panel by Risk Frontiers MD Ryan Crompton and University of Florence Professor Sara Landini.  

The WICA 2023 event will take place from August 30 to September 1 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre with the key theme of “Insurance Upside Down”.