The insured property market loss for Tropical Cyclone Debbie which hit Australia and New Zealand at the end of March has been estimated at A$1,116 million (US$820 million) by PERILS, the independent Zurich-based organisation providing industry-wide catastrophe insurance data.
Cyclone Debbie affected the Australian states of Queensland and New South Wales from 28 March 2017 until the early part of April, when it caused significant wind and flood damage. Storm surge was moderate, mainly due to the fact that landfall occurred between low and high tide, and that the landfall area was shielded by the Whitsunday Islands. Rainfall was however exceptional (e.g. 643 mm within 24 hours in Clarke Range, west of Mackay) and led to surface water and river flooding which affected many communities in Southeast Queensland and Northeast South Wales.
The remnant low from Debbie also impacted New Zealand’s North Island, which is however not included in the PERILS loss survey.
Mr Darryl Pidcock, Head of PERILS Asia-Pacific, said: “Cyclone Debbie is the first loss event captured by PERILS in Australia and comes only half a year after the initial release of the PERILS Industry Exposure Database for the territory. Debbie clearly exceeds our property market loss reporting threshold of A$500 million and made a significant impact on the insurance and reinsurance industry. As such, the event underpins the need for reliable natural catastrophe insurance data for Australia, which PERILS strives to provide.”
The Insurance Council of Australia has said that total insured losses caused by Cyclone Debbie exceededA$750 million towards the end of April. The insurance association has previously forecast that the total insured losses would exceed A$1 billion.