The Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) has urged New Zealanders affected by flood and storm damage from Northland into the South Island to prioritise their safety, heed the advice of local civil defence and contact their insurer early.
The insurance industry body provided several tips for affected residents. Most important of all is to keep safe and follow instructions from local authorities. ICNZ also advised residents to move valuables and electrical items out of reach of potential flood water, as well as move their cars out of flood danger. If possible, avoid driving, especially when local authorities have cautioned against it.
Residents should ensure that gutters and drains are clear of debris. In case of high winds, large items, such as barbeques, umbrellas and outdoor furniture, must be secured and smaller items packed away.
ICNZ said that farmers in high wind areas should secure irrigators, machinery and light structures. Property and stock should be moved to higher ground in line with local warnings.
ICNZ also urged everyone to check their emergency kits, check in with their neighbours and anticipate power outages.
"Contact your insurer early if you suffer flood or storm damage, especially if you need to make emergency repairs, which should only be undertaken if they can be done safely,” said ICNZ chief executive Tim Grafton. “It’s also important to take photos of any damage or items that have been ruined.”
The council said its member insurers were grateful to their customers for their patience with the claims process during “these unprecedented times”. The damage caused by severe weather is compounded by a stretched building sector, with materials hard to come by. ICNZ said these factors have resulted in longer claims resolution times.
“Insurers want to get things fixed as soon as possible and always try to prioritise those most badly affected, such as those whose homes are red- or yellow-stickered,” Grafton said. “Getting your claim lodged early is the best way to speed things along.”