Build­ing tests

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Angelique Pat­ter­son

STRATA-TI­TLE prop­er­ties should un­dergo reg­u­lar engineering in­spec­tions to en­sure they are re­sis­tant to fu­ture ex­treme weather events to help re­duce dam­age and po­ten­tially insurance premi­ums.

The Insurance Coun­cil of Aus­tralia en­gaged the James Cook Univer­sity’s Cy­clone Test­ing Sta­tion to con­duct a re­view on insurance claims on strata prop­er­ties from re­cent cy­clones, to iden­tify fac­tors that me con­tribut­ing to insurance losses.

The re­port came back with sev­eral rec­om­men­da­tions in­clud­ing un­der­go­ing in­spec­tions to ad­dress any vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties and also demon­strate to in­sur­ers that some build­ings may be low risk. It would also im­prove peo­ple’s un­der­stand­ing of a build­ing’s po­ten­tial per­for­mance dur­ing ex­treme weather events.

Di­rec­tor of the Cy­clone Test­ing Sta­tion Dr David Hen­der­son said delv­ing into the pol­icy of pric­ing was out­side of the pi­lot study’s scope, which was pro­vided by the ICA.

‘‘The terms of ref­er­ence for the pi­lot study was pro­vided by the ICA and it is my un­der­stand­ing that the study was ini­ti­ated by the ICA so they can bet­ter un­der­stand the at­tributes of the build­ings when sub­jected to se­vere wind and rain,’’ Dr Hen­der­son said.

‘‘The re­port was able to demon­strate, in over­all terms, the good struc­tural per­for­mance of build­ings but did show the amount of wind driven rain wa­ter ingress and as­so­ci­ated dam­age.

‘‘The work high­lighted the im­por­tance of main­tain­ing the build­ing en­ve­lope – cladding, flash­ings, gut­ter­ing, roof – cor­rectly in­stalling items like air­cons, an­ten­nas and awnings, be­cause when they fail they can cause dam­age to roof and walls that leads to wa­ter ingress into the build­ing.’’

Dr Hen­der­son said peo­ple should also have a prepa­ra­tion plan in­clud­ing ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sures for items such as shade-cloth awnings/sails, prun­ing and main­te­nance.

Insurance Coun­cil CEO Rob Whe­lan said the study found the age of a prop­erty had less in­flu­ence on claims that fac­tors such as wa­ter ingress, caused by dam­age to an­cil­lary items such as ae­ri­als and fences.

‘‘The com­bi­na­tion of high winds and driv­ing rains typ­i­cal of cy­clones mean that wa­ter can find its way through doors and win­dows, while dam­age to a TV aerial or to gut­ter­ing can leave a roof ex­posed to wa­ter and fur­ther dam­age to the in­te­rior of a prop­erty,’’ he said.

‘‘More than 80 per cent of claims in­ves­ti­gated noted some form of dam­age from wa­ter ingress.’’

Mr Whe­lan said the study also found larger, multi-storey build­ings had a higher in­ci­dence of claims and claims cost than low-rise build­ings be­cause they have more win­dows and doors ex­posed to weather events.

‘‘The fact is prop­er­ties in Trop­i­cal Queens­land are ex­posed to a much higher cy­clone risk of dam­age to life and prop­erty than most of the rest of Aus­tralia,’’ said Mr Whe­lan.

‘‘Where the risk is higher this is gen­er­ally re­flected in higher insurance premi­ums. How­ever, the ICA and the insurance in­dus­try are com­mit­ted to work­ing with gov­ern­ments and com­mu­ni­ties to re­duce th­ese risks where pos­si­ble.’’

In the past 20 years, the ICA has de­clared 12 cy­clones as catas­tro­phes, with th­ese caus­ing com­bined in­sured losses of $2.32 bil­lion. The big­gest event, Cy­clone Yasi in 2011, caused $1.4 bil­lion in insurance losses. Dam­age caused by ex-Cy­clone Oswald in 2013 caused a fur­ther $1.1 bil­lion in losses in Queens­land and New South Wales.

www. in­sur­ance­coun­cil. com. au/ is­sue­sub­mis­sions/re­ports/in­de­pen­dent-strata-study

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