13 Dec 2018

Insurance payouts for extreme weather events hit $226m for 2018

11:03 am on 13 December 2018

Insurers have paid out $226 million this year to help customers recover from extreme weather events.

Insurance claim form.

In the second most expensive year for insurers in half a century, $226m has been paid out to help customers recover from extreme weather events. Photo: zimmytws/123RF

This is is the second most expensive year in nearly half a century, just falling short of last year's figure of $243m.

Severe weather events, including tornadoes between April 10-11 cost insurers $74.4m alone.

Chief executive of the Insurance Council Tim Grafton said the increasing frequency of severe weather events was a problem for everyone.

"To have two years in a row in the three most expensive years on record is an indicator of the increasing frequency and intensity of storms in New Zealand," he said.

"This is in large part to the impacts of climate change."

The country needed to adapt to the effects of climate change and rising sea levels, Mr Grafton said.

There was a near certainty that the sea will rise a further 0.2 metres to 0.3m in the next 20 years, he said.

Preliminary research from NIWA had revealed 125,600 buildings and $38 billion of replacement costs within 1m of sea level rise, Grafton said.

"It's important that we take that concern and turn it into action," he said.

"The sooner we adapt to our changing climate, the less adaptation will cost us and the less we will be impacted by the increasing frequency and severity of storms."

That could include improving stormwater infrastructure, moving properties away from coastal areas and floodplains, and building more resilient buildings, he said.

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