Advocacy coalitions and flood insurance: power and policies in the Australian Natural Disaster Insurance Review

Dolk, Michaela and Penning-Rowsell, Edmund C. ORCID logoORCID: (2021) Advocacy coalitions and flood insurance: power and policies in the Australian Natural Disaster Insurance Review. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, 39 (6) . pp. 1172-1191. ISSN 2399-6544 [Article] (doi:10.1177/2399654420960484)

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Insurance against flooding creates households and places that are protected against financial harm in the form of catastrophic losses. Contested here are questions surrounding the availability and affordability of private insurance cover, significantly affecting the lives of people in at-risk geographies by imposing costs either as insurance premiums or episodic flood damages. Policy choices and decisions (‘political/economic’) about such controversial place-based environmental/risk issues (‘spatial’) are often made “behind closed doors”. A public inquiry opens those doors, albeit briefly, so we can see “what goes on”. The Natural Disaster Insurance Review (NDIR), a public inquiry after the 2010/2011 Australian floods, was a major forum of debate about Australian flood insurance policy. We explore the intricate politics of the key advocacy coalitions involved, to understand NDIR’s role and outcomes. Our case study methodology uses content analysis of c. 100 NDIR submissions and reports, media coverage, and insurance industry and government statements, supported by in-depth interviews with people directly involved. We show that a well-resourced and powerful coalition of insurers was the dominant advocacy coalition in the NDIR and that consumers and their at-risk communities were represented by a relatively under-resourced coalition. The primary role of the inquiry as a problem-solving process was ultimately overridden during the post-inquiry implementation phase, during which the insurance coalition was dominant. Major NDIR recommendations were not implemented, and hence key spatial/political issues that the inquiry was established to address for the benefit of those at risk remained unresolved.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Flood Hazard Research Centre
Item ID: 30876
Notes on copyright: Copyright © 2020 The Author(s). DOI:
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (
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Depositing User: Josie Joyce
Date Deposited: 03 Sep 2020 15:54
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 17:44

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