The Insurance Council of New Zealand’s preliminary annual figure for severe weather events reinforces the support provided to insurance customers, with insurers paying in excess of $202 million* in insured loses over the last 12 months.

Tim Grafton, Chief Executive of ICNZ, says insurers have been there when we needed them with approximately 12,000 claims paid to help their customers get back on their feet during the year.

“The uncertainty 2020 delivered was magnified by the number of flood and other severe weather events right across the country. On top of this we had the Ōhau fires and face a continued heightened risk of fires this summer.”

Mr Grafton says that climate change means weather events are becoming more frequent and extreme, reinforcing the important role insurance plays to manage this risk.

“It’s never been a better time to check that you have the right level of insurance should the unexpected happen. We believe roughly a third of homeowners could be under insured, that is that their house insurance wouldn’t be enough to rebuild if they needed to.  

ICNZ recommends checking your insurance at least annually, updating your policy and cover to include any changes to your home, vehicle and other assets.

“It pays to talk with your insurer to make sure you have the right level of cover. They will be able to guide you on what cover you need and can direct you to online tools – such as Cordell Sum Sure – to help you calculate the estimated cost of a rebuild including the unexpected extras that are involved.”

ICNZ says it’s not just homeowners that need insurance. “Our research tells us that renters are much less likely to have home contents insurance – only 42% of renters had cover compared to 88% of those who owned their home.**

“Contents insurance is really important for the wider cover it provides you – including temporary accommodation cover if your house is uninhabitable after a weather event or flood, and liability cover if you accidentally damage someone else’s belongings.”

ICNZ said the cost of the 2020 events will grow with figures for the recent floods in Napier and Plimmerton still being calculated.

For information on calculating your home insurance ICNZ has two consumer guides ‘Calculation of the area of a house for insurance’ and ‘Calculating your house’s sum insured’ on our website: https://www.icnz.org.nz/understanding-insurance/consumer-guides. And for a breakdown of the costs of natural disasters refer to our website https://www.icnz.org.nz/natural-disasters/cost-of-natural-disasters.


* All figures provided are provisional and do not include preliminary costs for the Greater Wellington floods of 29 Nov- 1 Dec 2020.

** Figures taken from ICNZ October 2020 UMR research

Breakdown of total severe weather cost by claim type 2020

(NB: all figures below are for private insured losses and are provisional at 23 December 2020)

Claim typeClaimsInsured loses ($m)
House and contents7,859$112.88
Business interruption265$10.03
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