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Man at the centre of the resilience program: ICA’s General Manager Policy Risk and Disaster Karl Sullivan

“Developers now call us to ask how they might do something to make sure developments are going to be insurable in 80 years’ time,” says Mr Sullivan. “That has never happened before. “They know clients will have their eye on the insurance premium – and flood insurance premiums in flood-prone areas are significant, sometimes $20,000 a year.” Mr Sullivan says a crucial step in the process is to make insurers aware of mitigation work already done. “Mitigation is of no use to insurers unless they know about it,” he says. “If you build this infrastructure you have to remap the data. We are only now starting to close this gap.” At the end of last year the Flood Exclusion Zone database was launched by ICA. Combined with the National Flood Information Database (NFID) – developed by ICA with state and territory governments and funded by the general insurance industry – insurers now have some form of flood information for about 10.4 million addresses nationwide. But further breakthroughs are now being made, with local governments coming on board to hand over the information which is so desperately needed. “Insurers’ ability to price flood risk has

increased significantly in 2013 with large areas of Queensland and Victoria added to the new ICA Data Portal,” Mr Sullivan says. “Although commentary after the 2011 floods suggested that some local governments were reluctant to hand over data, ICA has found a personal call to the mayor has almost always had a positive response. “We haven’t struck a mayor yet who doesn’t get this. “Most councils have some data, and while some might be reluctant to provide it, those attitudes are changing rapidly, driven in part by the price and availability signals sent by insurers. “Maps are available for all 104 major Queensland population centres with risk after the state government earlier this year ordered all data to be supplied.” This progress “is a direct result of ICA’s advocacy work on flood mitigation”, Mr Sullivan says. Another project that is fast coming to fruition to help with the resilience battle is ICA’s Building Resilience Rating Tool. ICA has been investing in the tool for residential buildings in Australia since 2010. It aims to provide a rating of the ability of a building to withstand extreme weather events and is designed to encourage homeowners, homebuyers, homebuilders and insuranceNEWS

October/November 2013

property professionals to adopt improved material selection and design. Beta testing for version 2.0 of the tool started in September, with a public version of the tool planned before the end of the year. Mr Sullivan does not join critics who attack the government for permitting building on flood plains. “If you take a map of Australia and cross out all the flood plains, there isn’t much left,” he says. “In this country communities have grown up around water sources. That is where we live. “But if you are going to build on a floodplain, then you need to build in a resilient way. “It is about adopting a world view that we should spend more in advance to save money later. “Government needs to help people that have been hit hard by disaster but we need to help people not get hit in the first place.” Mr Sullivan does not believe that the efforts of others on this issue are a distraction from, or a reflection on, the work of ICA. “IAG has carried out a brilliant piece of work. We worked with them throughout that whole process. 23

Profile for Insurance News (the magazine)

OCT/NOV 2013 - Insurance News (the magazine)  

QBE CEO John Neal has spoken exclusively to Insurance News about his drive to turn the global insurer’s fortunes around. Our in-depth articl...

OCT/NOV 2013 - Insurance News (the magazine)  

QBE CEO John Neal has spoken exclusively to Insurance News about his drive to turn the global insurer’s fortunes around. Our in-depth articl...