Nelson business owners may struggle to get insurance payout

Nelson business owners may struggle to get insurance payout | Insurance Business New Zealand

Nelson business owners may struggle to get insurance payout

Kiwis with homes and businesses affected by the Nelson bush fires have been urged to contact their brokers and insurers following a large-scale evacuation of 3,000 residents, and a firefight involving 22 helicopters.

The two separate fires in the Tasman District broke out 20 kilometres apart on February 04, and were still burning as of February 11. The fire in Pidgeon Valley has been described as New Zealand’s biggest fire since 1995.

Claimants have been advised to contact insurers as soon as possible, though according to Kenn Butler, owner of Nelson-based Paradise Brokers, commercial claimants do need to be aware of some potential limitations to their insurance policies.

“The Walters Bluff and Pidgeon Valley fires were a real concern – they had to bring in several helicopters, but it was amazing how quickly they extinguished it,” Butler told Insurance Business.

“Some of our clients were evacuated from Wakefield as a health and safety precaution, and claimants do need to know that insurance policies usually carry certain exclusions. As an example; after the Christchurch earthquakes, the shops in the red zone that weren’t damaged but couldn’t operate because they weren’t allowed back into the premises couldn’t claim insurance.

“We have the same problem now in Wakefield,” Butler explained. “We have various businesses – restaurants, cafes, butchers – whose owners have been evacuated, and those people will face difficulty because they have no insurance cover for that situation. If you have a house and contents policy, it’ll cover costs associated with any damage, but a business can’t temporarily move somewhere else. That’s going to be the main struggle.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has since pledged an initial $20,000 for the Mayoral Relief Fund, which was set up by the Tasman District Council, stating that she hoped the money would help businesses and affected individuals deal with the aftermath of the blaze.