Insurers have spent more than $226 million this year helping customers recover from extreme weather, according to data from the Insurance Council of NZ (ICNZ).
The severe weather stats put 2018 as the second most expensive year for severe weather events since 1969, with 33,064 claims costing $226.4 million.
It fell just short of 2017’s record, a year in which severe weather events cost insurers $243 million.
“To have two years in a row in the 3 most expensive years on record is an indicator of the increasing frequency and intensity of storms in New Zealand,” said ICNZ Chief Executive, Tim Grafton.
“It’s critical New Zealand adapts to the changing climate,” said Grafton. “It’s impacting on our communities and it’s impacting on our economy.
“A report from the Treasury says that climate change-induced droughts alone have cost New Zealand $720 million in economic losses in the 10 years to 2017. It states that the total economic impact of climate change, including flooding and severe weather, will be much greater.”
Figures presented by UMR at the ICNZ conference showed 53% of people thought climate change was concerning or very concerning.
“It’s important that we take that concern and turn it into action,” added Grafton. “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.”
ICNZ states that adaptation actions can include improving infrastructure such as stormwater systems, moving properties away from coastal areas and floodplains and not consenting new properties in these areas, and building new residential and commercial buildings to be more resilient to a changing climate.