Insurers' data assessing flood-prone areas coming this week

Finance minister says that next steps will be decided in April

Insurers' data assessing flood-prone areas coming this week

Catastrophe & Flood

By Kenneth Araullo

IAG, Tower Insurance, and Suncorp NZ are amongst the New Zealand insurers that are currently in the process of collecting information on areas at high risk of flooding, which will be provided for the Cyclone Recovery Taskforce later this week.

The taskforce, headed by Finance Minister Grant Robertson, met with various insurers last week to discuss the progress which will ultimately decide on rebuilding and possible managed retreat.

Suncorp chief executive Jimmy Higgins said in a report that the insurer wanted to understand broader recovery efforts, and that it is currently assisting the taskforce with their assessment of high-risk areas so there is a clear understanding of “the scale of impact and what it could mean for rebuilding."

IAG’s flood model and Tower boss on the ‘tough talk’ of managed retreat

A flood model from IAG, the country’s largest insurer, found that 1% of homes in New Zealand – roughly equivalent to 20,000 properties – are at risk of severe flooding. Chief executive Amanda Whiting said in February that the insurer still had “more mapping yet” because of the necessity to come to an agreement with other insurers and the government on what parameters will define areas as high-risk.

The scope of the disaster also caused Tower CEO Blair Turnbull to bring up the difficult topic of managed retreat.

“We need to help communities to face into that,” Turnbull said in an interview. “It’s tough to talk about it. It’s a managed retreat. But we need to start talking about it, and we need to help transition some of those communities away from flood-prone areas.”

The ICNZ recently revealed that more 40,000 claims have been received by insurers relating to Cyclone Gabrielle, which is worth around $890 million.

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