Why poor maps left Queenslanders without insurance

A few weeks ago, I came across this article from the Australian news site ‘news.com.au’ entitled: ‘Bad maps reason for lack of flood insurance.’

It reports on how an Australian company was unable to offer some Queenslanders flooding insurance because the mapping available to them lacked detail and accuracy.

Insurance Australia Group Chief Executive Michael Wilkins is reported as saying: “Had better quality flood maps been available more insurers would have offered flood insurance in Queensland,”

“Basically, flood mapping data is the province of local councils and some of those councils simply don’t have the data available to them or have been unable to provide that information to the industry.”

“Without that information we can’t assess the risk and hence can’t price the risk.”

Visualising flooding

Visualising flooding

Essentially, without having accurate data with which to model the potential impact of flooding, insurers don’t know the risk involved in insuring a property. They could therefore be overlooking potential customers.

Thankfully in Britain, we don’t see flooding on the scale that engulfed Queensland, but there has been an increase in serious flooding events in recent years, each of which has resulted in huge distress for the people involved and major costs to insurers.

The Association of British Insurers calculated that the industry paid out approximately £3 billion in claims during the ‘Great Autumn Floods’ of 2007 and a further £174 million following the 2009 Cumbrian flooding.

That’s why we’re working with the insurance sector to help them make the most of geographic information, helping them accurately locate properties that are on raised ground and away from the threat of flood water. This allows them to offer their customers competitive premiums on properties that might previously be deemed to be too high a risk.

Most of the major insurers in Britain use our address level data (as opposed to entire postcode areas) and we’ve calculated they could identify 25% more properties which they may have previously overlooked.

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1 Response

  1. Same happens here in GB. Flood maps created by a certain government department (not OS) show my nephew’s house at risk from flooding yet the house is 25 feet above the adjacent flood plain. Thus a hefty insurance bill. I did some work with the same GI data used to create the flood model and found that source data (not OS!) was of extremely poor quality and when it was overlaid on an inappropriate scale of base map – lo! the house was within. But using good quality GI data and appropriate mapping, I was able to show the house was outside the risk area. As anyone can see on a site visit! GI data can, when used properly, give a good rendering of reality. Good luck with your work!

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