Zurich-based catastrophe insurance data provider PERILS AG has released its initial insured market loss estimate for Cyclone Gabrielle which struck New Zealand in the middle of February, pegging the total at NZ $1.543 billion.
The industry loss estimate is based on data collected from the New Zealand insurance market and covers the property line of business.
Cyclone Gabrielle arrived just weeks after devastating floods hit Auckland and surrounding areas on the North Island of New Zealand.
PERILS explains that despite the eye of the cyclone not making landfall, its overall width and intensity ensured that its impact was felt across most of the North Island.
The Hawke’s Bay region and Auckland were the most affected areas, with many parts of the North Island experiencing wind gusts of 90-110 km/h, with a peak gust of 141 km/h recorded at Cape Reinga at the Island’s northernmost tip.
Meanwhile, Rainfall in excess of 200 mm was widespread. The Raparapaririki station in the Gisborne district was recorded to have 568 mm fall within 48 hours.
PERILS states that the impact of Cyclone Gabrielle was amplified as the torrential rain fell on saturated soils.
Darryl Pidcock, Head of PERILS Asia-Pacific, commented, “New Zealand has largely been spared from catastrophic weather events in the past 50 years.
“This makes it all the more unusual that two billion-dollar weather events, first the North Island Floods and then Cyclone Gabrielle, should occur within weeks of each other.
“These catastrophes represent one of the most challenging periods for the insurance industry since the Canterbury earthquake sequence of 2010/11.”
Pidcock continued, “We greatly appreciate the support of our insurance partners who have provided their loss information notwithstanding the current pressures.
“We believe that our second New Zealand industry loss report within two weeks will contribute to a better understanding of weather risk and in turn the ongoing insurability of atmospheric perils.
“Moreover, our industry loss data are used as triggers for catastrophe risk protections and thus facilitate the flow of risk capital into the New Zealand insurance market.”
PERILS notes that an updated estimate of the market loss from Cyclone Gabrielle will be available on 17 May 2023, three months after the event’s end date.
Elsewhere, the Insurance Council of New Zealand Te Kāhui Inihua o Aotearoa (ICNZ) disclosed earlier this month that Cyclone Gabrielle has generated around 40,000 claims so far worth a collective $890 million.