Insurance sector in West Coast needs assurance that flood protection assets are good

Climate change is affecting the West Coast insurance sector

Insurance sector in West Coast needs assurance that flood protection assets are good

Insurance News

By Halee Andrea Alcaraz

The West Coast Regional Council must assure the insurance sector that its flood protection assets are “to standard” amid climate change.

The council recently issued a qualification on its draft 2024-34 long term plan (LTP) consultation document on how it intends to address climate change in the service level of flood protection assets.

The insurability of the West Coast as a region was canvassed by councillors at the recent Audit and Risk Committee.

According to committee chair Frank Dooley, the target measure for an unqualified audit opinion on the LTP had to be questioned after seeing climate change-related comments received from the auditor.

However, Aaron Prendergast, acting corporate services manager, said that there is no way to demonstrate an assurance that the council’s planning strategy can incorporate climate change.

Dooley noted that the only way the council will deal with climate change is when it undergoes a full assessment of the condition of all river and coastal protection works on its books, namely stop banks.

Scoop reported that chief executive Darryl Lew noted that the insurance question was heightened after the natural events affected the North Island a year ago.

Lew said that it is becoming “clearer” that insurance is heading to a “much more risk-based approach” which he said drives prices and affects whether or not banks will lend.

He added that the council should demonstrate to insurers, valuers, and banks that its flood schemes are “to standard,” most importantly to Westport.

This will be good for property owners, West Coast, and for the council in terms of rating, Lew said.

He added that the council had a “broad global connection” to the viability of the West Coast economy in the end.

Dooley noted the council’s planned independent review on the integrity of its flood schemes in the West Coast.

“This is what will drive our relationship with the insurance sector. That will assist all of our ratepayers to get insurance, and at reasonable levels,” Dooley said.

He also noted that it has been a major challenge for property owners to get insurance since the events at Westport in July 2021.

“You only have to mention Westport at the moment and they (insurers) run a mile,” he said.

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