Australia has significant exposure to natural hazards. Achieving the optimal balance between mitigation funding and post event funding, and assessing the appropriate sources and sharing of the necessary funding, involve complex issues. In recent years improvements in the available data have made it possible to better identify high risk and low risk areas.  While this has benefits, it has also led to affordability concerns, with some consumers in high risk areas unable to cover the high costs now being charged by insurers. 

In this context it is appropriate to ask what is the role of different levels of government (Federal, State and Local)? What is the role of insurers?  This conference aims to consider these questions and offer views on alternative approaches to the solution to those currently in place.

Plenary 1 – Current Approaches to Measuring and Funding Risk

Chair: Jeremy Waite

Sarah Elsey – Head of Applied Analytics - RACQ
Rob Whelan – Executive Director & CEO – Insurance Council of Australia
Daniel Smith – Senior Research Fellow – Cyclone Testing Station, James Cook University,  Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC

Insurance pricing capabilities are becoming increasingly sophisticated. This coupled with the increased availability of data, in terms of exposures (e.g. PERILS) and hazards, is creating difficult choices for insurers. It is also leading to risks that might not be economical to insure. This session will look at these issues, as well as present an engineering view of where the nature of the risk can change, such as new building materials that are more resilient to perils. The session will finish with a view from the Insurance Council of Australia on the role of insurers in the funding mix for natural catastrophes for Australia.

Plenary 2 – Challenges in Funding High Risk Areas

Chair: Simone Collins

Tim Andrews – Principal – Finity 
John McAneney – CEO – Risk Frontiers 
Scott Reeves – Head of Underwriting, Australasia – Munich Re

The current insurance model for funding natural hazard impacts to private and commercial dwellings involves risk rating, whereby premiums can vary significantly for properties assessed to be high or low-risk. What challenges does this model present? What is the extent of the affordability challenge and could pooling arrangements assist, or would these create new issues? During this plenary, speakers will address these and other questions.

Plenary 3 – Impacts of Catastrophes on Communities

Chair: Sharanjit Paddam

Richard Thornton – CEO – Bushfire & Natural Hazards CRC
Melissa Parsons – Senior Research Fellow – Institute for Rural Futures; School of Behavioural, Cognitive and Social Sciences, University of New England, Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC
Rachel Nibbs
– General Manager, Resilience and Recovery – Queensland Reconstruction Authority
Andrew Coghlan – National Manager, Emergency Services – Australian Red Cross

What are the financial and non-financial impacts of catastrophes on communities? What can we learn from past disasters about the social impacts on communities and individuals? How can we best position ourselves for rapid and effective reconstruction post-event? During this plenary, speakers from leading organisations with on the ground experience of disasters and recovery will address these and other questions.

Plenary 4 – Managing Uncertainty of the Future

Chair: Richard Yee

Professor David Karoly – Leader, Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub, National Environmental Science Program – CSIRO
Professor Holger Maier – Professor of Integrated Water Systems Engineering, Associate Editor, Environmental Modelling and Software – School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering, The University of Adelaide,  Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC 
Rade Muslin – CEO – FBAlliance Insurance and Vice President, Casualty – American Academy of Actuaries

The nature of future hazards will likely be different from today. What will future hazards look like?  In 2050, the man-made environment and the natural environment could be dramatically different than what we can even imagine. The effect of the current technological upheaval combined with climate change coupled with strong population growth in major cities presents future planning challenges. How should governments and planning bodies find solutions to deal with future growth and future hazards to build resilient cities?  


Tim Andrews

Robert Whelan

Holger Maier

Dr Melissa Parsons

Rade Musulin

Daniel Smith

Scott Reeves

Prof John McAneney

Sarah Elsey

Rachel Nibbs

Andrew Coghlan

Richard Thornton

Keynote and Plenary Speakers