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Editorial March 4th 2022

Welcome to this week’s editorial, As we continue to see the devastation of the floods up north and the heartbreak it is bringing to so many we can also appreciate that the impact of the floods will continue in these communities for years to come. Homes have been destroyed and farms and businesses now face financial ruin. The general response from many will be “It’s OK, they are insured”. But as we discovered recently in the Mogo floods and also following the bushfires is that many of the properties affected were either not insured or dramatically underinsured. The floods up north are being called “unprecedented”. That might be so but it raises the point that the probability of floods rising to that level again is now real. And as a consequence, even as we read this, insurance companies and councils are mapping out new flood maps. Council’s will say they need to do this to identify infrastructure at risk such as sewer pumps, water services, public buildings and general network infrastructure. An example in Eurobodalla is the Council’s flood mapping of our low lying towns. Council say they have done this to identify key assets that need to be raised ahead of flooding or sea surge. Fair enough. But their maps of these predictions, based on rubbery figures and generalised algorithms now shade properties with a Alarming RED that is officially registered against that property. Imagine you have a house in one of these low lying towns. You know that storm water, floods or tidal surges has never been on your property because of historical records and anecdotes. But now, during an “unprecedented flood” the flood waters lapped at the far corner of your otherwise elevated property. By virtue of a line drawn by someone based on a mathematical equation, you are now Flood Prone, and as such you will now pay a much higher premium. The same applies if another layer of Council’s mapping says you are bushfire prone. In the Eurobodalla the residents of Surfside found that a layer in Council’s mapping system declared them at risk of rising seas and sea surges. Based on some very rubbery mathematics their properties were identified and, while it is only a “prediction” those affected are now paying an increased premium simply because Council makes the layer available to insurers who react to reduce their exposure to risk. Those in the north who have never experienced the flood levels of this week may well discover that they are underinsured, as many across the State did after the bushfires, or they might find their premiums don’t cover floods and only storms and rain. After the Great MopUp property owners will find themselves with higher premiums and newly imposed conditions if they decide to rebuild, such as increased floor heights above the latest flood level. Much like we have in the South East there will be new homeless. Those who can’t afford to rebuild. Those who can’t find rentals, those who have no-where to go, that have no belongings and little hope of getting back to “normal” because they were underinsured, and now the property they own faces increased premiums because the “unprecedented” is now the new normal. There is a lesson in there somewhere. Until next lei

ABC News: March 5th, 2022 Underinsurance 'crisis' grows as climate change worsens Floods, fires and extreme weather The Business / by business reporter Rhiana Whitson Watch Video

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