Insurance Council says cost of northern NSW and south-east Queensland floods now at $4.3 billion

The catastrophic flooding that devastated south-east Queensland and northern NSW is now the fourth most expensive disaster in the nation’s history, according to the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA).

Figures released today show the estimated insurance cost of the natural disaster has climbed by almost $1 billion in the last month.

The total cost is now put at $4.3 billion, although ICA chief executive Andrew Hall has previously told the ABC the current damage bill was likely to be significantly higher.

“You add into it the under insured, people who don’t have insurance, who opted out of the flood cover for example and then we’ve got public infrastructure on top of that,” he said.

The ICA said 20 percent of claims had now been closed, and almost $1 billion had been paid to policyholders so far.

The most expensive weather event on record, according to ICA figures, was the Sydney hailstorm of 1999, which resulted in $5.57 billion in insured losses.

Next was Cyclone Tracy in 1974, with losses estimated at more than $5 billion, and Cyclone Dinah in 1967 at $4.69 billion.

Aerial picture of a building complex inundated by muddy brown water, with inundated sheds and paddocks in the background.
The Lismore City Council estimates it will cost $1 billion to rebuild after the flood.(Supplied: Rod Evans)

Lismore’s billion dollar rebuild

The figures were released as the Lismore City Council published their own report on the floods, which estimated more than $350 million worth of damage to council assets.

The repair bill for roads and bridges alone was thought to be $200 million.

Lismore City Council General Manager John Walker said the cost of rebuilding the broader community would be close to $1 billion.

He said the document would be used to lobby state and federal governments for financial assistance to rebuild the city and its surrounds.

“The report provides a historical record of what happened during and after the floods,” Mr Walker said.

A man with an "I Survived Lismore 2022" shirt at a flood inquiry meeting.
The NSW Parliamentary Flood Inquiry held hearings on the north coast this week.(MacKenzie Bruce)

Resilience NSW roasted

Meanwhile, witnesses at a NSW parliamentary inquiry have criticized the performance of Resilience NSW, the body tasked to help communities rebuild and lead disaster and emergency efforts from prevention to recovery.

“Resilience NSW has been found wanting at every level,” Lismore MP Janelle Saffin told the inquiry.

Lismore City councilor Elly Bird, who has been heading up a community group known as Resilient Lismore, also spoke of her frustration.

“I asked who my point person was and I was given a generic email address for Resilience NSW, and every email I felt to that address went unanswered,” she said.

“I had an offer from the Surf Lifesaving Club to send 1,000 volunteers into Lismore to work alongside us to support our community.

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