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Insurer Suncorp laments Australians' love for renovation over self-protection


Despite an increasing threat of natural disasters, Australians would prefer a good bathroom renovation than to spend on protecting themselves from fire, flood and cyclones, according to Suncorp.

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Its latest survey found that 62 per cent of Australians would prefer to spend money on a renovation even though half expected to see more disasters in the next 12 months.

About half would also prefer to do some landscaping.

The same attitude exists within governments where Suncorp has previously highlighted that 97 per cent of disaster funding goes to recovery and only 3 per cent to mitigation.

Suncorp has also felt the sharp end of impacts. It recently announced that the floods in Queensland, NSW and Victoria had led to claims of about $250 million.

The total costs across the major insurers was about $600 million. And that was just the floods. Last year eastern Australia was dealing with devastating bushfires.

Suncorp Insurance Product and Portfolio chief executive Lisa Harrison said it was alarming that homeowners prioritise aesthetics over the strength and protection of their homes.

“We’re a country ravaged by cyclones, bushfires and floods, but the property market places greater value on luxury upgrades ahead of a strong, resilient home,” she said.

“Once a disaster happens, the lives of those affected can be upended completely. The structural integrity of a home can be severely damaged by any natural disaster, leaving the home uninhabitable for months.

“Families are also forced to decide whether they should rebuild or move on from disaster-prone areas. Leaving homes and communities they’ve known and loved is not an easy choice for anyone and has wider economic ramifications.”

Suncorp has teamed up with CSIRO, James Cook University (JCU) and Room11 Architects to design, prototype and test what could be Australia’s most resilient home.

“The design is inspired by the iconic Queenslander,” said Room11 architect Thomas Bailey.

“We have reimagined it into a safer and stronger home, that is liveable and easy to maintain. Its features help withstand natural disasters while remaining comparative to the cost of any standard architecturally designed home.”

Research leader of bushfire adaptation at CSIRO Justin Leonard has spent decades analysing the impact of fire on buildings: “What we’ve seen over many years is our housing is poorly suited to fire and burns down for minor reasons,” he said.

“Fire finds minor ways to get in and it’s the furniture that burns over many hours. It’s not about a house being unscathed; it’s about having a place to live after a fire – that’s the definition of resilience.”



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