New Zealand Insurance Industry Counts the Cost of Recent Floods

The Insurance Council of New Zealand reported today that the June storm that caused extensive flooding in Dunedin and the Otago region will cost insurers over NZ$28 million ($18 million US).

As if to underline the increasing flood threats New Zealand is facing, areas of Auckland were under water earlier today, 16 July 2015, after 77.4 mm of rain fell in just 5 hours. Floodwater closed several roads, including access to the city’s airport, which also suffered minor flooding. Over 1,500 homes were left without power.

Floods and severe weather in May this year have already landed insures with a bill for almost NZ$20 million ($13 million US).

Insurers are still counting the potential costs of the floods that hit lower North Island, New Zealand between 20 and 21 June 2015, which affected the regions of Manawatu-Wanganui, Taranaki and the township of Hokitika in the West Coast Region. More than 400 people were evacuated from their homes after major floods caused by several days of heavy rain, with over 100 mm falling in 24 hours in some areas.

Dunedin Floods to Cost $28 Million

On 03 June 2015, Dunedin saw record levels of rain, with 175mm falling in 24 hours. Dunedin and the Otago region between 2 and 4 June, closing roads and highways and cutting power to many residents.

“With events like this always possible, it just underlines the importance insurance plays when disaster strikes” Insurance Council Chief Executive Tim Grafton said.

“Provisional figures show that nearly 2,000 domestic claims cost insurers almost $20 million, with almost 200 commercial and business interruption claims costing over $8 million.  The remainder of claims was largely for motor vehicles,” Grafton added.

Final claims figures will be known in early October 2015.

Floods in Dunedin, New Zealand,  03 June 2015. Photo: Jon Sullivan, licensed under Creative Commons
Floods in Dunedin, New Zealand, 03 June 2015. Photo: Jon Sullivan, licensed under Creative Commons

Wellington Storm of May 2015 to Cost Almost $20 Million

The $28 million flood costs for Dunedin come on the back of a difficult spring for New Zealand insurers.

The extreme weather events that caused extensive flooding in Wellington and saw a tornado rip through parts of Mt Maunganui cost insurers almost $20 million, the Insurance Council of New Zealand reported on provisional estimates in June 2015.

Most damage was the result of the storm that lashed Wellington and the lower North Island between 13 and 15 May.

“This saw extensive flooding around the Wellington region disrupting travel in and out of the capital. Provisional figures show that cost was almost NZ$17 million, including damage to commercial properties and business interruption cover costs of over NZ$9 million. House, contents and motor damage made up the balance of the damage. With events like this always possible, it just underlines the importance insurance plays when disaster strikes” Insurance Council Chief Executive Tim Grafton said.

The tornado that hit Mt Maunganui on 14 May wreaked havoc on houses and commercial properties. Over NZ$2 million worth of insured damage occurred with most of that (NZ$1.2 million) from commercial damage and almost $800,000 worth of domestic damage.

Calls for Better Risk Reduction

In November last year, the New Zealand insurance industry called for better risk reduction in order to keep insurance affordable.

The Insurance Council released a 15-point plan aimed reducing the social and economic impact of natural hazards in New Zealand. Insurance could only remain available and affordable for all if risk reduction measures were improved.

The New Zealand Insurance Council urged decision-makers to implement a range of legislative and strategic recommendations, including better central coordination of national responses to natural hazard management, amending the Resource Management Act to include the management of natural hazards and listing all natural hazards on property LIM (Land Information Memorandum) reports.

A flooded road in Christchurch, New Zealand, after the heaviest rainfall in 40 years hit the city. Photo: CharlotteRyanNZ
A flooded road in Christchurch, New Zealand, after the heaviest rainfall in 40 years hit the city.
Photo: CharlotteRyanNZ