14 Jul 2015

FMG gets $3m flood, snow claims - so far

4:11 pm on 14 July 2015

The country's largest rural insurer Farmers Mutual Group says it has received $3 million worth of claims related to the flooding and snow that hit the country last month.

Aerial photo of Waitotara. Whanganui flood

Waitotara during the recent flooding. Photo: PowerCo

FMG said the severe flooding in the lower North Island prompted 264 claims from the Manawatu-Whanganui and Taranaki regions, and snow damage in Canterbury led to 80 claims being lodged.

General manager of advice and insurance Conrad Wilkshire said most of the claims were for damage to houses, contents, sheds, and farm equipment.

In one case, a farm building was swept down a river.

"If you take the Manawatu, it's the lowlands who are impacted there, predominantly dairying systems. Those who have been impacted have been impacted very hard, in particular those bounding the Orua River, south of Feilding. For those farms it's been quite devastating."

He said it would probably take until Christmas for those affected farms to get back on track he said there were about 24 of those.

"If you contrast that with Whanganui, whole communities and whatever farming system you're operating on, it has had quite extensive impacts and it has been much wider spread, from the town centre right through to the upper reaches of the hill country."

Mr Wilkshire said the Canterbury snow storm hit at a similar time to the floods, in late June.

"The Canterbury high country is used to snow, but it was very wet snow and it put a very heavy loading on some farm buildings. One instance I can think of is a particular collapse of a very well built, long standing wool shed."

He said several factors made the latest storms harder to recover from, than previous ones.

"This recent storm series is a significant event. In the context of Canterbury winds, about $7 million, you were dealing with a lot of capital intensive infrastructure, with irrigation particularly, but there's a lot of damage here that isn't insurable.

"We're dealing with farmers who often have a life time of effort going into these farms and within the space of a weekend, they have got probably several years of reinstatement to get back on track. For the sheep and beef country, particularly in the hill country, where you're dealing with a lot of slips and core infrastructure like bridges, it's a very big challenge indeed.

"Some of the other disasters you've been able to work within a season and get back up and running, for some of the sheep and beef country it's going to be a lot more problematic and we're still trying to get a good handle on that."

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