Friday, February 15, 2008

Mapping risk of flooding areas in Australian

THE nation's insurance giants are developing a map of the coastal areas at risk from rising sea levels in a bid to curb billions of dollars in potential payouts resulting from climate change.

The move comes as the New South Wales Planning Department has refused to release a report expected to warn that tens of thousands of homes on the state's central coast face inundation as sea levels rise.

Through the Insurance Council of Australia, home insurers such as IAG are developing a nationwide flood mapping tool aimed at identifying areas most at risk from rising sea levels and increased flooding and cyclonic activity.

"Flood remains a significant community issue that stands to worsen with the various inundation predictions arising from current climate change models,'' IAG chief risk officer Tony Coleman said Thursday.

Members of the ICA are working to simplify the criteria relating to climate change-related claims -- such as by establishing a "minimum standard definition for flooding'' - because insurance laws surrounding such claims are complex and in some cases unclear.

Most insurance policies do not cover against general flooding, while building damage caused by associated land erosion is generally covered.

Sea level expert and head of Geosciences at Sydney University Peter Cowell, who is working closely with IAG, said hundreds of thousands of homes faced possible inundation resulting from climate change over the next 20 to 30 years.

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