Why Half a Million Aussie Houses Could Be Uninsurable

Climate change could exacerbate Australia's population bomb.

Tue 07 Nov 23


You must live in the North Pole if you don’t believe Australia needs another three million homes over the next two decades to provide the infrastructure for a growing population.

Igloos, we don’t need houses. We do as the migrant population approaches 700,000 by 2024.

A faster-than-expected return of international students and working holidaymakers following the reopening of borders is a key factor behind the hike.

But this pressure-cooker opens a new dynamic – the possibility that by 2030, more than 525,000 houses will have a high probability of becoming uninsurable.

A new study by the Australian Climate Council across all electorates in Australia shows this will affect around 3.6% of properties (520,944) or one in every 25 properties.

Worsening extreme weather means increased costs of maintenance, repair and replacement for homes, workplaces and commercial buildings.

As the risk of being affected by increasing extreme weather events, insurers are raising premiums to cover the increased cost of claims and reinsurance.

The Climate Council has ranked the top 10 most at-risk electorates from extreme weather events covering bushfires, extreme winds and different types of flooding, all based on the percentage of ‘high-high-risk’ properties in each federal electorate.

These properties have projected annual damage costs equivalent to 1% or more of the property replacement cost, which the Climate Council lists as uninsurable with premiums expected to become too expensive for people to afford.

Across Australia, about 520,940 properties, or one in every 25, will be ‘high risk’ and uninsurable. 

In addition, 9% of properties (1 in 11) will reach the ‘medium risk’ classification by 2030, with annual damage costs equating to 0.2-1% of the property replacement cost.

The Climate Council report shows these properties are at risk of becoming underinsured. In those at-risk electorates, 15% of properties (165,646), or around one in every seven properties, will be uninsurable this decade.

In the electorate of Nicholls in Victoria, which covers the Local Government Areas of Campaspe, Greater Shepparton, Moira, and parts of Strathbogie and Mitchell, 26.5% of properties will be uninsurable. In the Greater Shepparton, it is as many as half (56% of properties) and almost 90% in the locality of Shepparton.

By 2030, 40 federal electorates across Australia will have 4% of properties classified as uninsurable, says the Climate Council. Eighteen of these electorates (or 45%) are in Queensland.

The top five most at-risk electorates in Queensland are: Maranoa, Moncrieff, Wright, Brisbane and Griffith. The percentage of properties that will be uninsurable by 2030 in each state and territory is 6.5% in Queensland, 3.3% in NSW, 3.2% in South Australia, 2.6% in Victoria, 2.5% in the Northern Territory, 2.4% in Western Australia, 2% in Tasmania and 1.3% in the ACT.

Riverine flooding poses the biggest risk to properties, notes the Climate Council. Of properties classified as ‘high risk’ by 2030, 80% of that risk will be due to riverine flooding.

Bushfires and flash flooding are other significant worsening hazards. The most at-risk electorates are Nicholls in Victoria, Richmond in NSW (including the towns of Ballina, Bangalow, Brunswick Heads, Byron Bay, Hastings Point, Kingscliff, Lennox Head, Mullumbimby and Tweed Heads, and the Maranoa in southwestern Queensland affecting the towns of Roma, Stanthorpe, Winton and Warwick.

Across Australia, 2.5% of properties (360,691) will be at ‘high risk’ of riverine flooding by 2030, with a further 372,684 at ‘medium risk’.

Meanwhile, the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute says a national strategy is needed to overcome decades of accumulated policy errors.

It should acknowledge that the federal government has a special capacity to finance public projects and “use money for the public good”.

And it needs to drive the construction of 950,000 social and affordable rental dwellings by 2041, which, at 50,000 new dwellings yearly, is far higher than the current government target of 8000 dwellings a year over the next five years.


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