Insurance support for communities around the country hit by extreme weather events has hit a new annual record of $248m, with insurance customers making more than 13,600 weather related claims for the twelve months to December 2020.

The revised figure includes the preliminary cost of the severe weather and floods across the Greater Wellington region 29 November – 1 December, and the freak hailstorm that hit the Nelson-Marlborough region on Boxing Day 26 December.

“Sudden and unexpected extreme weather can leave widespread losses for individuals and their communities in its wake.  The preliminary support from insurers for the Boxing Day hailstorm is $41m but the true costs are much higher.” says Tim Grafton CE ICNZ.

“It is sobering to think of the numerous orchards in the region that may not have had insurance in place – with the true cost of the event realistically much larger than reflected by our figures.”

In October we were reminded of the cost of rural fire, with the final figure of the October Ōhau fire seeing claims exceed $35million, with 180 house and contents claims, 15 business and commercial claims, and 31 motor claims.

The major loss events include Napier flooding in November, ($73m provisional), Upper North Island flooding in July ($44m), Nelson-Marlborough hailstorm ($41m provisional), Lake Ōhau fire in October ($35m), Southland flooding in February ($30m) and the June Upper North Island storm and tornado ($17m).*

Mr Grafton says that due to the impacts of climate change we can expect extreme weather events to become even more frequent, with more droughts and more flood events.

“Sadly, the impacts of climate change are very real for all New Zealanders. Insurance plays a vital role to support our communities manage these risks and it has never been more important to insure adequately for unexpected events.

“Conversely, we must adapt to our changing climate and take steps to reduce risks where possible, building more resilient communities. This could mean improving infrastructure such as stormwater systems, not consenting new properties in higher risk areas, as well as building more resilient residential and commercial buildings.

“The sooner we adapt the less adaptation will cost us and the less we will be impacted by the increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather.”


*Figures are rounded to the nearest million and are provisional for both the Greater Wellington floods (29 Nov- 1 Dec 2020) and Nelson-Marlborough Boxing Day hailstorm (26 December) are provisional.

Breakdown of total severe weather cost by claim type 2020  (NB: all figures below are for private insured losses)

Claim typeClaimsInsured loses ($m)
House and contents8,729$118.6
Business interruption278$11.1
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