Insurance customers through the Canterbury region lodged 3,538 claims costing over NZ$43.8m ($30.4m) for insured losses following the 29 May-1 June floods, according to provisional figures released by the Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ).
The provisional total includes 2,327 house and contents claims, 288 claims for motor, 842 commercial and business-related claims, and 77 crop and other claims which can include claims for livestock.
Mr Tim Grafton, chief executive of ICNZ, notes that the floods were the start of what is proving to be a stormy winter for the country.
“We’ve said on many occasions that we can expect to see more frequent and disruptive weather events as the effects of climate change increase, and sadly we are starting to see that pattern emerge. We only have to cast our minds back to the weekend to the second significant weather event that has left devastating flood and damage behind in Westport and through the Buller District.
“It has never been more important to look at how we manage this, and what steps we need to take to control, adapt, avoid and accept the risks they present.”
Key role of the government
Mr Grafton says that while insurance plays a vital role in supporting the management of these risks by communities, the central and local governments play a key role to support adaptation to the changing climate, taking steps to reduce risks where possible and build more resilient communities.
This could mean improving infrastructure such as stormwater systems, not approving new properties in higher risk areas, as well as building more resilient residential and commercial buildings.