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Change in approach needed for natural disaster management – IAG NZ

This coming weekend marks the one-year anniversary of the North Island floods, closely followed a fortnight later by Cyclone Gabrielle. The twin weather events caused widespread flooding and landslips and had a devastating impact on communities across New Zealand.

AMI, State and NZI received over 52,000 claims resulting from both the North Island floods and Cyclone Gabrielle, of which 99% of motor, 99% of contents, and 96% of home claims have now been settled, with its insurance payouts topping $1 billion, a number second only to the Canterbury earthquakes.

Amanda Whiting, CEO of AMI, State and NZI says, “We received six times as many claims as the same period the year before. However, the number of claims and amount of payments only partially reflect the true social and economic cost of these events. The effect these storms have had on our country and our communities is profound.

“We are proud of the hard work our teams have done to settle claims for our customers, however, we know it will be a longer road for some homeowners as they await local council information about land categorisation and confirmation of voluntary buyout offers, undertake or wait for community or property specific flood mitigation work, or have complex claims that take more time to resolve. Complexities can include shared ownership and the need for technical advice from multiple experts.

“As New Zealand’s largest general insurer, we remain committed to resolving all our customers’ claims as quickly as we can and understand how important this is in helping to get their lives back to normal.

“Our job is to provide insurance to support New Zealanders when things go wrong, and we are dedicated to being here to help people recover. But insurance is only part of the solution – much more needs to be done to help keep New Zealanders safe from the impacts of flooding and natural hazards.

“We strongly believe that the best way to keep New Zealanders safe, and insurance available and affordable, is by reducing flooding and natural hazard risk through good planning decisions, investment in protection and resilience measures, and where necessary, through relocating people away from at-risk properties.

“It is vital that we become much better at managing natural hazard risk if we are to keep people safe and insured. There is work underway, but a different attitude and a much more targeted approach is needed to close the emerging gap between the impacts of our hazards and how they are managed.

“We have been actively involved in helping to improve the management of natural hazard risk and remain committed to playing our part.

“It’s vital that both central and local government continue to prioritise this important work on behalf of all New Zealanders.”

 

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