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

19 November 2020

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 Bureau of Meteorology1 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.

What is La Niña? Aussies unaware of wet summer ahead

An alarming 9 million3 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 record4, 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 year5.

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.

Risky realities: Unprepared for a rainy season

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 million6 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.

Be covered: Calling on Aussies to conduct a policy check

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 billion7 in damage to Australian homes. 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 million8 in damage. 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.”

Looking ahead: Getting ready for whatever the weather

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.

Allianz Chief Weather Officer, Tim Bailey’s Top 10 Tips for being prepared, no matter the weather:

  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, please visit: https://www.allianz.com.au/about-us/support/weather

Media enquiries
Matea Rojas
0435 084 880 | matea.rojas@allianz.com.au

Key statistics: What is La Niña? Aussies unaware of wet summer ahead

Risky realities: Unprepared for a rainy season Be covered: Calling on Aussies to conduct a policy check Looking ahead: Getting ready for whatever the weather

About the research
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.

References

  1. Australian Government of Bureau of Meteorology, (2020). Climate outlook for December to March. [online] Available at: http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/ahead/outlooks [Accessed 11/11/2020].
  2. 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)
  3. 9,056,000 in total. 45 per cent of the Australian population of 18+ adults (20,076,000)
  4. Australian Government of Bureau of Meteorology, (2016) What is La Niña and how does it impact Australia? [online] Available at: http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/updates/articles/a020.shtml [Accessed 13/11/2020]
  5. Australian Business Roundtable, (2017) Building resilience to natural disasters in our states and territories [online] Available at: http://australianbusinessroundtable.com.au/assets/documents/ABR_building-resilience-in-our-states-and-territories.pdf (pg 19)
  6. 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)
  7. Insurance Council of Australia, (2020) Insurance bill for season of natural disasters climbs over $5.19 billion [online] Available at: https://www.insurancecouncil.com.au/media_release/plain/575 [Accessed 13/11/2020]
  8. Insurance Council of Australia, (2020) Disaster chasers preying on hailstorm victims [online] https://www.insurancecouncil.com.au/assets/media_release/2020/021120%20Disaster%20chasers%20preying%20on%20hail%20victims%20Final.pdf [Accessed 13/11/2020]