When disaster strikes, how effective is insurance? — Dr. Kate Booth

Lecture Theatre 1 -- Rm 106
Life Sciences Building
College Road, Sandy Bay Campus
University of Tasmania
5 Mar 2019

The Fire Centre Research Hub and the University of Tasmania are proud to present Dr. Kate Booth,  Senior Lecturer in Human Geography and Planning at the University of Tasmania. She will be talking about her research on the effectiveness of insurance after natural disasters.

Here’s a recording of the seminar for those of you who missed it:


In the face of disaster, house and contents under-insurance looks like a problem in need of a solution. Without insurance households are unable to ‘bounce back’. They lack the self-sufficiency that frees governments from significant recovery expenditure. It is estimated that around half of Australians are without an insurance policy that fully covers their assets, and this is generally assumed to be because of affordability. Our research paints a very different picture, with insurance decision-making taking place within the complexities of day-to-day life and a prevalence of ‘middle-Australians’ who are under-insured. Our findings also show that households aren’t making the connection between insurance and climate change. Households in rural and regional areas are more likely to be insured than those in cities, likely because rural residents are more attuned to environmental conditions. In cities, residents can feel less connected and less exposed to environmental changes. With rapid urban change affecting insurance uptake, those living on low incomes are at risk, but under-insurance must be uncoupled from affordability. Changes in housing affordability and availability and declining urban environmental awareness are two key factors that appear to be driving under-insurance.


Kate Booth, PhD is lead CI for the ARC Discovery Project ‘When Disaster Strikes: Geographies of house and contents under-insurance’ (DP170100096). This project is ascertaining household experiences and perceptions of insurance in high bushfire-prone areas. Following Hobart flooding in May 2018, she is also working with Chloe Lucas on pilot research tracking household recovery and experiences of insurance. She teaches urban and regional planning as part of the professionally accredited Master of Planning at Geography and Spatial Science, University of Tasmania.