Insurance customers received $19.7 million to meet losses from the February 2020 floods that led to a state of emergency being declared in Southland, Fiordland and Clutha.

The preliminary figures show the severity of the event which affected the area from February 3 to February 18, and led to New Zealanders claiming $7.3m for damage to their house and contents and almost $900,000 for damage to vehicles. A further $11.4m was claimed for damage to commercial property and interruption to businesses due to the event.

"These figures reinforce the scale of damage that a flood can cause," said Tim Grafton, chief executive of the Insurance Council of New Zealand.

"It also highlights the importance of having insurance to help you get back on your feet when the unexpected happens - which it has done several times in recent years.

“Extreme weather events over the last five years have seen insurers support people and their communities to the tune of $737.6m in insurance pay-outs.

"Sadly, these events are becoming ever more frequent and severe for our communities, and we know that with climate change this will only increase.

Grafton said New Zealand needed to adapt to the changes seen and take steps to reduce risks where possible to minimise the social impact and cost.

"Flood-prone areas of New Zealand are well known. We need to be mindful of this as we develop new and existing areas of New Zealand to reduce risks for Kiwis."

June 2020

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