Halfway through the Australian Summer and the disaster bill is already $515 million

A storm hits Bondi Beach. Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

This Summer is shaping up as a bad one for natural disasters. The holiday season isn’t over yet and a tornado in Sydney and bushfires in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia have caused $515 million in damages.

The Insurance Council of Australia declared catastrophes for South Australia’s Pinery bushfires (November 26), the Sydney tornado (December 17), the Great Ocean Road bushfires in Victoria (December 26) and the fire in Western Australia’s south west (January 8).

And there could be more on the way. Two homes were lost last night in a bushfire at Crib Point, south of Melbourne, and there are current fire weather warnings in South Australia, flood alerts in Queensland and thunderstorms coming in Western Australia’s north west.

“We’ve only just reached the midpoint of summer,” says insurance council CEO Rob Whelan. “Insurers are paying out more than $1.3 million each working day in repairs, building works, settlements and assistance to policyholders just for these four disasters.”

That number doesn’t include the losses from many other smaller events, including flood and storm damage in parts of Sydney and the Hunter region. A man died when a tree fell on a car.

The value of insured losses for the Pinery bushfires has risen to $170 million with 1991 claims. Commercial losses make up 73%. Two people died and 85,000 hectares of land scorched.

The Sydney tornado saw 4282 claims, with insured losses of more than $202 million.

The Great Ocean Road bushfires have resulted in $86 million of insured losses from 482 claims, including 185 residential buildings.

In Western Australia, the Yarloop bushfires produced 616 claims with losses of more than $57 million. Two people died in the blaze.

Last year was also bad for disasters. Bushfires, storms, hail and a cyclone created $3.45 billion in insurance claims in six months.

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