Following the severe weather that has left many parts of West Auckland under water overnight, the Insurance Council of New Zealand – Te Kāhui Inihui o Aotearoa – confirms that insurers are there to support their customers no matter the alert level.
“If you have been affected by the rain and floods don’t hesitate to contact your insurer, who is open and available to support you with processes in place to comply with alert level requirements,” says Tim Grafton, Chief Executive ICNZ.
As an essential service, insurers are able to support critical work and make safe repairs. All ICNZ members have confirmed that processes have been established to ensure all necessary steps are taken to limit or eliminate the risk of spreading COVID-19.
“Your first step is to contact your insurer, they will then be able to walk you through what their response will be like at Level 4.”
ICNZ says that after the initial steps to ensure the safety of yourself, your family, loved ones, and those around you, there are some things you can do to help with the necessary recovery and support a smooth claim process.
- If your property is damaged, contact your insurance provider as soon as possible.
- If you rent your property, contact your landlord and your contents insurance provider as soon as possible.
- Take photos and videos of any damage and note down the details of valuable items.
- If it’s safe, don’t dispose of anything until you’ve spoken to your insurer as it will help speed up the assessment of your claim.
- Throw away food and drinking water that has come into contact with floodwater, including canned goods. Be sure to take photos of perishable or unsanitary items before you dispose of them.
- Always wear protective gear, including gloves and masks, in case you’re exposed to hazardous material. Most flood waters are sewage polluted.
- If you can, clean and dry your house and everything in it, this is because when things get wet for more than two days, they usually get mouldy.
- If you need to, make your home safe, sanitary and weather-tight but if possible don’t do non-essential repairs. Get essential services repaired and keep copies of invoices.
- Do not do anything that puts your safety at risk or causes more damage to your property.
- Get gas and electrics checked before using any appliances.
- Be wary of wet machinery or electrical items. This means that if your car has been submerged in water don’t turn it on or attempt to drive it. Similarly, don’t use any appliances or machinery that may have been water damaged.
- For businesses affected, work with emergency services to understand how you can access your premises in keeping with lockdown restrictions so you can see what damage there has been and how you can progress the steps noted above.
With Auckland at Level 4 the process to assess the resulting damage is likely to look different than normal, with insurers likely to use a variety of socially distanced methods such as video.
“Once the rain stops and the waters recede, insurers will work closely with the emergency response teams and will follow their guidance to meet all the steps required to comply with the restrictions in place. Clearing silt, drying out houses, and getting resources and tradespeople to undertake repairs is likely to be very different at present. We expect the initial response from insurers will be to complete make safe repairs with insurers doing everything they can to help their customers as quickly as possible.”
ICNZ notes that for those with homes that are uninhabitable they may be eligible for a temporary accommodation benefit included in most home and contents policies, and to ask their insurer what support they can offer.