A Testing Start to 2020

We can all fantasise about what 2020 was supposed to bring to our society however the harsh reality is that the turn of the decade has not been kind to the world, especially Australia.

On the2nd January 2020, the New South Wales government declared a state of emergency whilst the Victorian government declared a state of disaster amid large bushfires that have now devastated communities and caused 34 fatalities across four states

As we come back from Australia Day, the devastating fires continue to burn across Australia and have now become the most expensive bushfire event with Insurance claims now exceeding $1.65bn according to the Insurance Council of Australia(ICA).

Over20,000 bushfire-related fires have been submitted with the majority coming out of New South Wales.

The stats to come out of the Bushfires are frightening;

  • Over 500 million animals killed across Australia
  • More than 7,000 structures damaged
  • More than 2,700 homes destroyed, compared to 2009 Black Saturday event which destroyed 2,029 buildings
  • More than 18.6 million hectares of land burnt. An area larger than the countries of Belgium and Denmark combined.
  • Median Sum Insured is $343,241 (as reported by ICA)

As it happens, a storm normally occurs shortly after a bushfire bringing relief to many affected areas however to compound matters, Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra are now dealing with the after effects of a major hail storm. The ICA has reported over 55,000 claims have been lodged across the three cities and losses are said to be over $500m to date. Approximately two-thirds of claims came from motor vehicle damage. The most affected suburbs in each above mentioned cities were Belconnen in Canberra, Campbelltown in Sydney and Glen Iris in Melbourne.

To make matters even worse, we turn our focus to the evolving international health concern known as “Coronavirus”. As at the 28 January 2020, there over 2,000 confirmed cases mostly among people in China with the virus claiming over 80 lives. Cases have also been identified in Japan, South Korea, the United States, France, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam. The epicentre of the outbreak seems to have been a seafood and live animal market in Wuhan. It was initially thought transmission had been from infected animals to those people at the market, with no or limited person-to-person spread. With now five confirmed cases in Australia, we watch closely on how the Australian Government manages yet another crisis that could significantly affect our country.

As the crisis is currently in it’s infancy, it is too early to understand what the Insurance implications may be however it’s clear that there will be a down turn in tourism which had already commenced given the worlds concerns with the bushfires. The World Economic Forum estimates that pandemics can potentially cause USD$570 billion in annual economic losses. The Ebola virus outbreak in Africa (2014-2016) caused more than USD$2.2 billion in economic losses, according to World Bank data. Following the Ebola outbreak, the World Bank formed a USD$500 million rapid response insurance fund in 2016. In cooperation with insurance companies, the fund uses catastrophe bonds to combat pandemics in developing countries.

The recent events have deeply affected everyone at GSA and we are amazed at how remarkably resilient Australians are during such horrific times. One of GSA’s core values is Human. “We will never forget that what we do impacts on the lives and livelihood of others, and that our success is based on what we as individuals bring to, and get from the experience”.

GSA is ready to assist anyone that may be experiencing a difficult or stressful time with their Insurance requirements or ongoing claim management.

We are also proud that GSA’s chosen charity, KidsXpress is actively working with affected families and children to help improve our communities during this time.

Written By

Carlo Gentili


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