New Zealand is a volcanic island nation in the Pacific rim and we are vulnerable to natural disasters. Our vulnerability is evident in our history and the Canterbury earthquakes have proven our need for insurance against natural disasters.
The 2010-2012 earthquake series in Canterbury was by far the most damaging and expensive natural disaster in New Zealand’s history. As a result of these events, insurance policies are changing in New Zealand and the cost of cover will rise. Local insurers are working for New Zealander to maintain their supply of affordable reinsurance from global providers in a world market that has seen a rise in dramatic natural disasters.
As a result of strong partnerships between local insurers and their global insurance partners, Canterbury will benefit from more than $20 billion in reinsurance money through EQC and private insurers. This sum represents more than 15% of this country’s GDP. Without our investment in insurance, this would have been an massive burden on our nation. The importance of our international insurance partners cannot be understated. We are and always will be a small nation in a seismically volatile region exposed to our own geography and the effects of tsunami from our Pacific neighbours.
Much has been written about the effectiveness of the Government, its agencies and the insurance industry in their response to the Canterbury earthquakes. The reality is that these agencies have worked collaboratively to resolve the many practical and commercial challenges that the earthquakes imposed. Work to resolve remaining challenges continues, but insurers are determined that this will not delay the rebuild.
In times of understandable frustration it is easy to overlook the scale and speed of the recovery response and the honest work of insurers to settle claims in an enormously complex situation. Our work is to settle claims under the terms of policies in place at the time of the earthquake. We have the support and trust of reinsures who are urging insurers to settle quickly.