HAWKESBURY residents are among the thousands of Australians facing soaring insurance premiums for flood cover, forcing many to ditch protection even as the risk of extreme weather increases.
Insurers blame the increases on the spate of flooding across much of eastern Australia in recent years — with another $733 million hit to insurers from January’s big wet in Queensland and NSW, as well as improvements in flood mapping.
For Tina Taylor, the premium increase is steep for her hobby farm on the bank of the Colo River, a tributary of the flood-prone Hawkesbury River.
When insurer NRMA recently quadrupled her premium from $2000 to $8250, she was forced to drop flood cover. Other flood policyholders have faced increases of 500 per cent.
‘‘People are prepared to pay a reasonable amount for insurance but, when the cost is unrealistic, you just go without,’’ Mrs Taylor said.
On McGrath Road at McGrath’s Hill, houses must be built to two storeys. Even so, premiums for some houses have increased six-fold in the past year from $1200 to $8000.
Barbara Harris, a nearby resident has a particular reason to worry about floods.
Her insurer, NRMA, recently hiked the annual cost of her premium, including flood coverage, from $840 to $4800, forcing her to drop protection from inundation. One friend was offered flood coverage for $10,000 a year.
“Most people can’t afford insurance,” Ms Harris said. “It’s beyond anybody’s pocket.”
At a height of 16 metres above nearby South Creek, the base of Ms Harris’s house is roughly at the one-in-100 year flood level. However, Ms Harris said earthworks by neighbours and nearby road construction mean her horse paddocks and buildings are at greater risk — just as insurance is being priced out of her reach. “It’s definitely more vulnerable,” she said. “If we do get a big flood, we’ll be gone.”