Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Beachfront properties in Australia may not get insurance cover

Marian Wilkinson in the Sydney Morning Herald: The Insurance Council of Australia says that no area of the country is ''red flagged'' to prevent beachfront home owners obtaining insurance but it is already difficult, if not impossible, to insure against coastal erosion or what are called ''saltwater risks''. And if you have insurance, keeping it if you live near the beachfront may become increasingly difficult as climate change puts a growing number of properties under threat from sea level rise and more frequent storm surges.

Members of the federal parliamentary coastal communities committee found insurance policies that contained general exclusions for "saltwater risks". One policy noted: "We will not pay for damage caused by erosion or subsidence … or as a result of erosion, vibration, subsidence, landslip, landslide, mudslide, collapse, shrinkage or any other earth movement."

Nor would the insurers pay for loss, damage, injury or death arising from actions of the sea, high tides or tidal waves. The only exceptions were for homes damaged as a result of tsunami, earthquake or explosions.

"We were told by the representatives of the insurance industry there were no 'red flagged' areas'', said Jennie George, chairwoman of the committee. ''But it became clear as we visited different parts of Australia where coastal erosion is already having a severe impact on property that a lot of current insurance policies would not cover for the consequences of coastal erosion because it's considered under the policy [to be] landslip.” …

Coogee Beach in Sydney, Australia, shot by Bozotexino, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License

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