Australian claims come in, as bushfires continue

While southeastern Australia saw both cooler temperatures and even rain Monday, fire risk is still expected to intensify as temperatures of more than 40°C, dry conditions and strong winds are forecast for today and tomorrow.

Roughly 25.5m acres have burned and more than 1,500 homes have been destroyed in hundreds of bushfires, with the most damage reported in New South Wales, which is the country's most populous state, and Victoria. Bushfires are also active in Western Australia and Tasmania.

Catastrophe risk modelling firm, AIR Worldwide says prolonged widespread smoke from the fires has led to hazardous air quality posing health risks, closing schools, and disrupting travel for about a third of Australia’s population.

According to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, 2019 was the hottest and driest year on record. Extreme heat and extreme drought conditions are key ingredients for bushfire that have been exacerbated by climate change over the last few decades.

AIR Worldwide says the most catastrophic bushfire event in Australia’s history – the Black Saturday fires in 2009 – caused more than AUD1bn in damage at the time. Losses reported from bushfires since 5th September 2019, have not approached this level. The Insurance Council of Australia has recorded AUD700m in claims filed, as of 5th January.

As it is still early in the Australian bushfire season, fire risk is projected to continue throughout January and February.

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