As we approach one week since Aotearoa New Zealand’s largest climate event, the Insurance Council of New Zealand Te Kāhui Inihua o Aotearoa (ICNZ) provides the following updates.
Advice for customers
If you are displaced from your home or in need of emergency help as a result of this climate event, call your insurer and let them know. Only when insurers know can they prioritise those most affected. Most house and contents policies, including those held by renters, include temporary accommodation benefits which can typically be accessed quickly.
If you initially reported damage to your insurer and have experienced additional damage since then, be sure to record that and update your insurer.
Insurers will typically want flooded carpets and soft furnishings such as couches and beds to be removed as the first step in drying out a property. Your insurer will typically cover this with you when you first call to lodge your claim. Records should be kept, including photographs, of all removed items. This work should only be done if it is safe to do so. Flood water should be assumed to be contaminated and appropriate protective equipment should be used.
Having checked with your insurer beforehand, keep receipts for any emergency repairs or critical items that you need to purchase or for any waste disposal fees.
Do not remove hard floor coverings, wall linings or structural elements of a property or disturb any materials which might contain hazardous substances. You must talk to your insurer if this is required, and only suitably qualified professionals should undertake this work.
Do not drive any vehicle that has been flooded.
Scale of event and claims
This is the largest climate-related event to impact Aotearoa New Zealand. Around 20,000 claims across house, contents, motor and commercial insurance have already been received. This number will continue to grow. It is too soon to put an initial dollar value against this event.
ICNZ is collecting claims and value data on this event and plans to provide a provisional update on an aggregate basis for the sector in March.
Access to insurers
In addition to being able to phone, email or communicate and lodge claims on insurers’ websites, insurers will be available at the following Auckland City Council hubs:
- Te Manawa, 11 Kohuhu Lane, Westgate (9am-5pm)
- New Lynn Community Centre, 45 Totara Avenue, New Lynn (9am – 5pm)
- Fickling Convention Centre, 546 Mount Albert Road, Three Kings (9am-5pm)
- Birkenhead Leisure Centre, 46 Mahara Avenue, Birkenhead (9am-5pm)
Being transparent about how long it will take to settle claims
Insurers have experience in dealing with large scale events and are in this for the long haul.
Initial assessment – insurers are focusing all available staff on affected areas, with many bringing in staff from elsewhere in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia and elsewhere.
Assessors are visiting properties as quickly as they can. Those most affected are being prioritised. Customers are asked for their understanding if there is a delay getting to them given the sheer number of claims.
Arranging for work to be done – Insurers are experienced in co-ordinating all available tradies and building materials and in helping to source other goods that need replacing. This experience includes knowing that getting repairs done and securing replacement goods takes longer than normal when there has been an event of this scale.
Less complex claims can be concluded quickly, especially if they are cash settled.
More complex claims involving extensive repairs, rebuilds or land damage will take longer. Where necessary, your insurer will manage any Toka Tū Ake EQC EQCover claim on your behalf.
Insurers have the resources and the experience to help New Zealanders get through this. And they will.
ENDS – KA MUTU
Contact/Tukua ki: [email protected]
When it comes to dealing with floods and storms, ICNZ offers the following advice:
- Continue to follow the instructions of Civil Defence and emergency services providers
- Do not do anything that puts your safety at risk or causes more damage to your property
- Contact your insurer as soon as you can
- Avoid entering flood water, either on foot or in a vehicle. Flood water can contain raw sewage and contaminants, conduct electricity and mask hidden hazards, and poses a serious hazard to health. It may be deeper, or moving faster, than you expect
- Try to make buildings safe and weatherproof but don’t make any emergency repairs unless it is safe to do so. Don’t start non-essential repairs without your insurance company’s approval
- If water has entered your property, don’t turn on your electricity until it has been inspected by an electrician
- Get essential services, such as water, electricity, gas and sewerage, repaired and keep copies of any invoices
- Do what’s necessary to make your home safe and sanitary.When cleaning, wear a mask, gloves and overalls to minimise exposure to possibly-hazardous materials
- Take pictures and make a list of any perishables you have to dispose of
- Photograph, remove and discard any water or mud-damaged goods that pose a health risk, such as saturated carpets and soft furnishings
- Take photos of any other damaged property to help speed up the assessments and claims process
- Mark, and take a photo of where flood water reached its highest within your property
- Keep any damaged items that don’t pose a health and safety risk
- Do not drive your vehicle if it has suffered water damage