The Insurance Council of New Zealand yesterday released its preliminary figures for the 4-5 October Ohau fire, with NZ$34.8m ($24.1m) paid for insured losses.
To date, insurers have supported their customers with 154 house and contents claims, 19 business and commercial and 24 vehicle claims. A final figure for the losses will be reported next year.
Mr Tim Grafton, chief executive of the ICNZ, says this is a poignant reminder of how quickly rural fires can spread and the important role of insurance to help pick up the pieces afterward.
"The fire has devastated the Ohau community, leaving many to rebuild their homes and lives from scratch. It shows us just how important it is to insure adequately for unexpected events that can have such a significant impact."
Other significant fires in New Zealand’s history include the 2017 Port Hill fires with insured losses of NZ$18.3m and the 2019 Tasman District fires which caused insured losses of NZ$3.98m.
The fire in Ohau in South Island is the second major fire event since September, and ICNZ is calling for all New Zealanders to remain vigilant this summer.
"The impacts of climate change mean we will see more extreme weather - we can expect more droughts and more flood events. With areas forecasted to be hotter over summer, there is an increased risk of fires and we all play a role in reducing this risk," said Mr Grafton.