Insurers braced for Gabrielle claims as 27 Jan to 2 Feb claims pass 40,000

Insurers are prepared to handle the many claims that will arise from Cyclone Gabrielle from across the motu. People should try to register their claims on-line, leaving phone lines free for those who need the most urgent assistance.

“While Gabrielle is yet to pass, insurers are already prepared with all available staff on hand to get on with accepting claims, prioratising those displaced from their homes or otherwise needing extra care,” said Insurance Council of New Zealand Te Kāhui Inihua o Aotearoa (ICNZ) Chief Executive, Tim Grafton.

Insurers are already dealing with more than an estimated 40,000 claims so far arising from Aotearoa New Zealand’s largest climate event to date over 27 January and 2 February.

“People should put their own safety, and that of their whanau, first,” said Tim. “House and contents policies typically include temporary accommodation benefits, including those held by renters. If it’s not possible to stay in your home, call your insurer as soon as possible. If you are able to stay in your home, it is best to lodge your insurance claim on-line.”

Insurers had already mobilised staff from across Aotearoa, Australia and further afield to help deal with claims from earlier in the month. They are already in place, ready to continue to systematically work through claims.

Despite the large number of claims expected in addition to those already registered, most are still expected to be settled within a matter of months. Experience tells us that where there has been significant property damage, or where demolition and total rebuilds are required, this will take longer. A handful of complex claims, especially where land damage will need to be addressed first, may take longer still.

“Aotearoa’s insurers have the strength and experience to see this through. As a sector, we will stand with all affected New Zealanders until the job is done,” added Tim.

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Notes to Editors

After the event

  • Put safety first. Stay out of badly damaged buildings and, if possible, flood water. Do not drive flooded vehicles. If your property has been flooded, turn off the power. Don’t turn it back on until it has been checked by an electrician.
  • Phone lines will be busy so it is best to make claims online. If you can’t stay in your home, or are otherwise experiencing vulnerability, do not hesitate to call your insurer. For those with home or contents insurance, including renters, temporary accommodation benefits are typically available.
  • If your property was damaged in the last fortnight’s climate event but now has additional damage, be sure to record the new damage and report that to your insurer.

What you can do to start cleaning up

  • Mark and photography the highest point of any flooding.
  • Dispose of fully flooded property, especially carpets, soft furniture, such as sofas and beds, plus other ruined or contaminated items that can’t otherwise be properly cleaned. Wear appropriate protective equipment if you’re doing this yourself. List everything that you remove, take photographs and get together any proof of purchase such as receipts that you have. You will need such records to support your claim.
  • Set aside items that can be cleaned. Do not keep unsanitary items in your home.
  • You can start with emergency repairs to make your home safe and sanitary. Keep receipts and a record of work done.
  • When the weather allows, start the drying out process. Remove all the water you can, open windows and doors to get as much air in as possible. If you can get fans and dehumidifiers, use these safely.
  • 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.
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