Insurers have spent more than $226m ($155m) this year helping customers recover from extreme weather, according to data from the Insurance Council of NZ (ICNZ).
The severe weather statistics place 2018 as the second most expensive year for severe weather events since 1969, with 33,064 claims costing NZ$226.4m. 2018 fell just short of 2017’s record, a year in which severe weather events cost insurers NZ$243m.
"To have two years in a row in the three most expensive years on record is an indicator of the increasing frequency and intensity of storms in New Zealand," said ICNZ Chief Executive, Tim Grafton. "This is in large part due to the impacts of climate change."
"It’s critical New Zealand adapts to the changing climate," said Mr Grafton. "It’s impacting on our communities and it’s impacting on our economy.
A report from the Treasury says that climate change-induced droughts alone have cost New Zealand NZ$720m in economic losses in the 10 years to 2017. It states that the total economic impact of climate change, including flooding and severe weather, will be much greater."
Figures presented by the market research firm UMR showed 53% of people thought climate change was concerning or very concerning.
"It’s important that we take that concern and turn it into action," said Mr Grafton. "The sooner we adapt to our changing climate, the less adaptation will cost us and the less we will be impacted by the increasing frequency and severity of storms."
Adaptation actions can include improving infrastructure such as stormwater systems, moving properties away from coastal areas and floodplains and building new residential and commercial buildings to be more resilient to a changing climate.