Uninsurable and afraid

Perth residents living in declared flood and bushfire zones are worried about a report which suggests their homes could become uninsurable by 2030.

Australia’s Climate Council published a report this week which outlines the impact worsening weather conditions, resulting from climate change, is having on insurance premiums on Australian homes.

Approximately 520,940 properties nationally will be classified as ‘high risk’ and uninsurable by 2030.

This equates to one in every 25 homes.

The percentage of homes effectively uninsurable by 2030 according to the Climate Council. Graphic: Tylah Tully.

Although only one of the top 20 ‘at-risk’ ranked electorates is in WA, with the remaining 19 located in the eastern states, WA is not immune to this impending climate crisis.

The report predicts 2.4 per cent of WA homes, equivalent to 35, 277 properties, will be effectively uninsurable by 2030.

Table summarising the most effected WA electorates and number of homes at risk of being uninsurable by 2030. Table: Climate Council.

The electorate of Tangney, which includes areas of Gosnells, Melville and Canning, was ranked 19 on the list.

Gosnells’ resident Darren James who lives on ‘flooding prone’ Eynesford Street, fears his home could be next.

“I hadn’t heard of that report until you mentioned it. It is really concerning to hear.

“I know we’ve struggled with drainage issues in the past. Last year in winter especially, this whole area was bad. I hoped the council would have done more but to my knowledge they haven’t,” he says.

Darren James fears his home could become uninsurable due to climate change. Photo: Tylah Tully.

Eynesford Street resident Lyn Partington took the matter to a council meeting in July 2021.

The council’s director of infrastructure responded that the levels of rain, which Mrs Partington referred to, were ‘unprecedented.’

These ‘unprecedented’ weather conditions brought about by climate change are becoming worryingly more common for many Gosnells’ residents.

“You hear all these things about climate change and the expected increasing frequency of these natural events. So yeah, I’d say I’m really worried about what’s to come ahead,” Mr James says.

Mr James is not alone in his concerns.

Mundaring resident Irene Clarke worries about the increasing number of bushfires in her area.

“Absolutely. I panic. Every summer I wake up and think can I smell smoke. . . it’s a constant worry.”

According to Mrs Clarke, the government is not doing enough to protect the average person, who she believes is at the epicentre of the climate issue.

“The Coalition government has been appalling on their climate change policy, and it’s putting people like me at risk,” she says.

Mundaring resident Irene Clarke fears more bushfires in her suburb could destroy her home. Photo: Tylah Tully.

An Insurance Council of Australia spokesperson says extreme weather conditions brought about by climate change are impacting of the affordability and availability of insurance in Australia.

At present, there are no areas which are uninsurable, the spokesperson says.

The Climate Council’s report emphasises an urgent need to upscale investment in national adaptation and disaster risk reduction to help Australians better prepare for worsening extreme weather events so they are not forced to relocate.

When asked whether she would relocate to avoid surging insurance premiums, Irene Clarke says residents are caught in a bind.

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