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As insurance claims increase, the NSW floods have become Australia’s most costly natural catastrophe.

The New South Wales flood problem is now Australia’s most costly natural disaster, with $5.5bn in claims this year. Some customers with current plans have gotten letters suggesting they won’t be renewed, while others claim insurers declined to cover them.

Andrew Hall, chief executive of the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA), said insurers “generally stay by their clients,” but he maintains reforms are needed in Forbes, where eight houses were entirely flooded and 140 were damaged. “We need a flood levee or to do something about those properties so this doesn’t happen again,” he told local TV on Wednesday.

Hall refuted suggestions the sector placed profits before people, noting $13bn in catastrophe claims had been paid out since the 2019–20 bushfires. The Bureau of Meteorology said Condobolin and Euabalong are still experiencing heavy flooding, and the Lachlan River may crest at 8m by Thursday. Bourke has beaten its 1998 flood record, and the major Barwong-Darling river flood peak is due Thursday. The NSW SES will concentrate on Lachlan villages, Narrandera, Walgett, Bourke, Hay, Albury, Echuca, Mildura and Wentworth, and Deniliquin and Moulamein in the next three days. Many NSW villages and rural estates remain isolated.

Moulamein is isolated and its 500 people were ordered to escape Tuesday or be stuck for weeks. As waves recede, flood response will escalate and many inland highways will remain closed. BOM and CSIRO issued the State of Climate Report 2022 while recovery efforts proceeded. The biannual research suggests heavy rainfall events are growing more severe and the frequency of short-duration occurrences will rise.

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