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Kaikoura to cost billions

04 Jan 2017

Natural disasters cost insurers $41.69 million in 2016 - low compared to previous years - but billions are yet to be added after the Kaikoura earthquake on November 14.

Figures from the Insurance Council show 2758 claims were made following natural disasters in the year, but they are quick to point out the bill does not yet not include damage from the magnitude 7.8 earthquake, or the extensive flooding that hit Wellington the next day.

According to the EQC, 18,432 claims had been lodged by December 22 - just more than a month after the quake - and many buildings and potential repairs are still being assessed. The deadline for claims is February14, 2017.

The council would get a clearer picture over the next few months of how much the devastating quake would ultimately cost, chief executive Tim Grafton said.

"There's no doubt the cost to residential buildings will run into hundreds of millions of dollars, and similarly there will be significant costs in material costs to commercial structures, and business claims as well."

Catastrophe modelling company AIR Worldwide estimated the insured losses from Kaikoura would range from $1.15 billion to $5.3 billion. That estimate did not include the cost of repairing road and rail, and land damage.

The claims would keep rolling in, Grafton said. "We have 80 buildings in Wellington undergoing further engineering inspections at the order of the council, and you don't know quite what that's going to turn up in terms of identification of damage.

"It's really too early to say how much it will be."

Kaikoura Mayor Winston Gray said there were concerns over exactly what cover businesses might have if they were able to open, but had far less business than usual.

He had been told by people who had been through the Christchurch earthquakes that getting claims sorted and a rebuild under way would not be a quick process.

"It's going to be a marathon. It could take some time."

Grafton said that, aside from the Canterbury earthquakes, the Kaikoura quake was one of the most costly events the country had seen.

Excluding the quake, figures from the Insurance Council show claims for natural disasters in 2016 were well down compared with the three previous years. In 2015, the price tag was $115.46m, 2014 hit $150.2m, and 2013 $175.3m.

That was despite wild weather creating a stir across the country in March, causing flooding and power outages from Northland, to the West Coast of the South Island.

On March 23 and 24, power was cut in Auckland, while Riwaka, near Nelson, experienced one-in-50-year flooding, and 200 people had to be evacuated from Franz Josef after the Waiho River burst its banks.

Insurers received 961 claims, costing them $30.2m.

Figures around the flooding in Wellington in November should be available in January, but the cost could be around $50m, Grafton said.

November was not the only time the region was awash with rainwater. In May it was hit by flooding leading to 496 claims, and a price tag of $3.9m.

Big bills after natural disasters in 2016: 

  • Flooding and wind - North and South Islands, March: $30.2m
  • Flooding - Lower North Island, May: $3.9m
  • Flooding and gales - Auckland, June: $2.4m
  • Nationwide storm, September: $3.1m
  • Heavy Rain and flooding - Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne and Hawke's Bay, September: $1m
  • Flooding - Auckland to Waikato and Hailstorm Hawke's Bay, October: $500,000
  • Flooding - Coromandel and Auckland, April: $590,000


 - Stuff

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