Almost half of Aussies unaware La Niña is about to ‘rain down’ on Australia. More importantly, are they prepared for it?

  • Bureau of Meteorology warns we are most at risk of severe rain and storms1 this summer, due to La Niña, but two thirds of Australia believe that bushfires are most likely to be experienced this summer (67 per cent)
  • New research from Allianz reveals almost half of Australians (45 per cent) don’t even know what La Niña truly means, and are instead spending 45 million hours1 on Christmas planning rather than preparing for the wild summer ahead
  • Allianz has recruited Tim Bailey as Chief Weather Officer to help get Aussies La Niña ready

New research commissioned by Allianz Australia has shown Australia is not as prepared as it should be for the extreme summer weather ahead. Despite the Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology 2020 climate outlook for December to March warning of a 70 per cent increased chance of extreme wet weather conditions such as storms and cyclones due to La Niña, the perceived reality for Australians is very different.

An alarming 9 million2 Australians (45 per cent) don’t know what La Niña is, in spite of its last occurrence in Australia being relatively recent, during 2010-11. This period was actually one of Australia’s wettest two-year periods on record (Australian Government of Bureau of Meteorology, (2016) What is La Niña and how does it impact Australia?), and the Queensland floods and Tropical Cyclone Yasi resulted in $5.1 billion – more than 60 per cent – of the insured cost of natural disasters that year (Australian Business Roundtable, (2017) Building resilience to natural disasters in our states and territories (PDF, 37MB) page 19). However, according to the research, 19 per cent stated they are entirely unaware the weather phenomenon is on the horizon, and a quarter of our nation (26 per cent) believe the term refers to something else, such as Spanish for a ‘little boy’ (6 per cent). Surprising given its literal translation is ‘little girl.’

The research found just seven per cent correctly identified it’s a result of cooler oceans, caused by stronger equatorial winds. Yet, despite the ongoing wet weather warnings, two thirds (67 per cent) of Australians still believe the country is most at risk of experiencing bushfires this summer this year. This is understandable given the Black Summer last year, and Australians are of course right to be aware of, and prepared for, bushfires. However, Allianz is calling for Australians to recognise that a La Niña cycle can also be destructive and needs just as much preparedness as other weather events.

Following a year of extreme bushfires and a global pandemic, the research revealed there is a concerning false confidence among Australians. While 81 per cent state they have taken, or are planning to take action to prepare and protect their homes for the severe weather season this year, and three in 10 Australians believe the nation is more prepared than ever to deal with catastrophic weather after living through the 2019/2020 bushfires (30 per cent), the study revealed they’re not necessarily doing so in the right way for La Niña, or as thoroughly as they should.

In fact, the nation is spending an estimated 45 million1 more hours per year preparing for the week-long Christmas holiday festivities, than preparing for the extreme summer weather that is set to last months. Suggesting that Australians, more than ever, need something to look forward to in 2020.

The Allianz research has found many Australians are not taking crucial steps to keeping their property safe in the instance of a catastrophic wet weather event – half of the population (51 per cent) would not secure doors, windows, or roof coverings if faced with the threat of a storm; three in ten (29 per cent) would not prepare for the impending risk of floods; merely a third (36 per cent) would prepare an emergency food and first aid kit if faced with flooding; and only 25 per cent have started making necessary repairs to their home and/or car to prepare for the severe weather season this year.

What’s more, only a quarter of (26 per cent) Australians are checking what their insurance policy covers them for prior to the severe weather season, despite last year’s storm and flood season inflicting over $2.8 billion in damage to Australian homes (Insurance Council of Australia, (2020) Insurance bill for season of natural disasters climbs over $5.19 billion (PDF, 163KB)). And just a third (29 per cent) are planning to check their insurance policy is up to date.

Allianz Australia, National Manager Claims Technical Claims & Business Operations, Mark O’Connor said: “Following the Black Summer and the COVID-19 pandemic that has followed, we wish to end the year on a more positive note. We’re already seeing the impact of this year’s La Niña taking shape. Just last month, Queensland’s Halloween hailstorm inflicted more than $110 million in damage (Insurance Council of Australia, (2020) Disaster chasers preying on hailstorm victims (PDF, 115KB)). So, we’re urging Australians to get prepared, do their research and know their policies.

“We have been insuring Australians for over 100 years and understand that preparing for extreme weather events can be daunting. It’s important we consider the extent of the impact Australia’s evolving climate and weather patterns have on our day to day lives. We’re seeing a higher volume of weather-caused claims. Education and preparedness are key to helping to ensure individuals and communities are protected; physically, emotionally, and financially.”

Yet, the new research from Allianz has revealed the unpredictability and complexity of Australia’s weather is taking its toll on far more than just our physical homes and community infrastructure. So much so, almost half of Australians (47 per cent) admitted they find Australia’s weather frightening and nearly half (43 per cent) believe it’s getting more extreme. Australians are also concerned about the implications severe wet weather events will have on their finances (34 per cent) and importantly, on their mental health (25 per cent).

To help Australians prepare for a significantly wetter summer than most are used to, and to bring the needed peace-of-mind, Allianz has enlisted Tim Bailey as Chief Weather Officer. All too familiar with Australia’s complex weather patterns, Tim has firsthand knowledge and tips for how Australians can prepare to help ensure their loved ones and properties remain safe.

“I’ve spent almost 25 years educating and warning Australians of the severe impact and consequences of extreme weather. With bushfires fresh in our minds, we need to let the country know that in La Niña, the weather could take a very different turn. I’m pumped to partner with Allianz Australia to help remind Aussies that the key to coping with extreme weather events, is preparation. The message is brilliantly simple. Don’t be scared. Be prepared," said Tim.

  1. Evaluate your risk. Speak to a local council or state emergency service to find out if you are in an extreme weather-prone area.
  2. Gather important documents and place them in waterproof bags.
  3. Clear gutters/downpipes of dead leaves and debris.
  4. Secure any outdoor items that could be blown about by the wind or carried away in surging water.
  5. Check your property for any damage or leaks and seal them to prevent water from flowing in.
  6. Move vehicles under cover when possible.
  7. Replace those old, worn out batteries in your portable torch and radio.
  8. Draw up a Home Emergency Plan (in case you need to evacuate) and importantly, share with your household.
  9. Create an Emergency Pack with a first aid kit, food and water supplies and a portable charger.
  10. The most important thing to note though folks, is that you can never be too prepared. So, don’t get scared, get prepared.

Allianz is here to help and support Australians through life’s toughest moments, and has been for 100 years, including educating Australians on the actions they can take now to help reduce future impacts. 

For more information on how you can stay protected this summer, visit Allianz Weather Support.
  • 67 per cent of Australians believe the country is most at risk of experiencing bushfires this summer
  • 45 per cent of Australians don’t know that La Niña refers to a climate related phenomenon that results in more wet weather in Australia
  • 19 per cent are unsure what La Niña means
  • 26 per cent of Australians believe La Niña refers to something else
  • 6 per cent believe La Niña is a Spanish term for ‘little boy’
  • 7 per cent correctly identified that it is a result of cooler oceans, caused by stronger equatorial winds
  • 81 per cent state they have taken, or are planning to take action to prepare for the severe weather season this year
  • 30 per cent of Australians believe the nation is more prepared than ever to deal with catastrophic weather after living through the 2019/2020 bushfires
  • On average, Australians are expecting to spend 7.5 hours preparing for the upcoming holiday season i.e. Christmas/New Year’s compared to just 5.2 hours preparing for severe weather this spring/summer
  • 51 per cent would not secure doors, windows, or roof coverings if faced with the threat of a storm
  • 29 per cent would not prepare for the impending risk of floods
  • 36 per cent would prepare an emergency food and first aid kit if faced with the impending threat of flooding
  • 25 per cent have started making necessary repairs to their home and/or car to prepare for the severe weather season this year
  • 26 per cent of Australians are checking what their insurance policy covers them for in order to prepare for the severe weather season this year
  • 29 per cent are planning to check their insurance policy is up to date
  • 47 per cent admitted they find Australia’s weather frightening
  • 43 per cent believe Australia’s weather is getting worse
  • 34 per cent of Australians are concerned about the longer-term implications severe wet weather events will have on their finances
  • 25 per cent of Australians are concerned about the longer-term implications severe wet weather events will have on their mental health
The research was conducted by YouGov via an online survey conducted between 30 October and 3 November 2020. The sample comprised a nationally represented same of 1,785 Australians aged 18 years and over. The data is weighted by age, gender and region to reflect the latest ABS population estimates.
  1. 45,171,000 in total. On average, Australians are expecting to spend 7.5 hours preparing for the upcoming holiday season i.e. Christmas/New Year’s compared to just 5.2 hours preparing for severe weather this spring/summer. The difference of 2.25 hours spent multiplied by the Australian population of 18+ adults (20,076,000)
  2. 9,056,000 in total. 45 per cent of the Australian population of 18+ adults (20,076,000)
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Allianz Australia delivers a wide range of personal, commercial and corporate insurance products and services to more than 4 million policyholders. It also provides support for workers compensation insurance to around 25% of the top 200 ASX companies, making it one of the leading workers compensation insurers in Australia.

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This article has been prepared by Allianz Australia Insurance Limited ABN 15 000 122 850 AFSL234708 (“Allianz”). In some cases, information has been provided to us by third parties and while that information is believed to be accurate and reliable, its accuracy is not guaranteed in any way.

Any opinions expressed constitute our views at the time of issue and are subject to change. Neither Allianz, nor its employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy or accept responsibility for any loss or liability incurred by you in respect of any error, omission or misrepresentation in this article.
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