Australia will likely see a record-high number of insurance claims following its most devastating wildfire season to date. The fires, which started in September 2019, have resulted in over 27 deaths, countless injuries, and the displacement of thousands of residents who have been forced to evacuate their homes. Attorney Bill Voss explores the consequences of this disaster, including potential losses for Australians throughout the continent.
Injuries and Costs of Australian Wildfires Expected to Rise
The Insurance Council of Australia has reported that nearly 9,000 fire claims worth $481 million US dollars have already been filed. The agency estimates that damage claims relating to the fires may rise to over A$900 million, or US$618 million. As the fires are expected to continue until the nation’s rainy season, which is not in the forecast for months, the damage total is likely to rise even higher.
To date, the fires have caused widespread damage to:
- Homes. Thousands of homes have been destroyed and conditions are expected to worsen in the coming months. In New South Wales alone, over 2,000 homes have been destroyed by over 160 fires separate fires, many of which remain uncontained. The rural community of Balmoral near Sydney has been largely destroyed, displacing nearly all residents shortly before Christmas.
- Businesses. Commercial businesses are expected to suffer large losses due to fire and smoke damage. In Canberra, toxic air pollutants have forced the closure of businesses and government departments, caused flight cancellations for national carrier Qantas Airways Ltd, and may impact future agricultural production.
- Wildlife. The University of Sydney estimates the loss of at least 800 million animals in the bushfires surrounding New South Wales, and roughly one billion animal deaths nationally since the fires began. Native species such as koalas, kangaroos, bats, mammals, birds, and reptiles have been killed directly by the fires or indirectly due to the destruction of their food and habitat.
- Tourism. The downturn in tourism spending is estimated at A$3.5 billion for the fiscal year ending June 30, causing a severe impact on the economy. Pollution cleanup and air quality conditions could take several months, causing income losses long after the fires have been extinguished.
If you need help with your fire insurance claim, the Voss Law Firm is here to assist you. Simply fill out the form on this page to get your questions answered by an insurance attorney, or learn more about filing a claim in our book, Commercial Property Owners Must Read This BEFORE Filing an Insurance Claim.