A LARGE chunk of more than $16 million in insurance claims for storm damage this year are related to February’s floods in Southland, the insurance council says.
Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) figures show insurance companies have paid out on more than 1710 claims for storm-related damage, including $8.7 million to commercial businesses, $4.3m in domestic claims, $420,000 in vehicle damage claims and $3.1m for other insured losses.
ICNZ communications manager Leah McNeil said while the statistics did not single out the Southland flood event, most of the claims would have been in relation to it.
In February, as flooding hit the lower South Island, the potential threat posed by Ouvea premix, widespread state highway closures and evacuations in Mataura, Wyndham and large parts of Gore grabbed headlines.
Milford Sound was also evacuated after major damage to the state highway.
About 3900 people were evacuated from homes in the region.
Southland Federated Farmers vice-president Bernadette Hunt said she believed the cost of the floods would be much more.
“A huge amount of damage caused by floods isn’t insurable. For example, pasture damage, damage to lanes, to fences… a lot of that is not insured and can’t be. So even when you get this figure, that’s not the cost.”
Flood protection banks and natural riverbanks were also not insured.
Ms Hunt believed 2020 was one of the most challenging years for the sector because of a “terrible spring”, February’s floods and the Covid-19 outbreak.
“Despite all of that, I think they are coping really well.
“It was a big hit on farmers’ bottom line. They have to absorb, fix it and move on.”
Southland Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Lindsay Wright said the trust contacted about 1100 farmers during the floods.
About 150 people sought some kind of assistance, including welfare and farm advice, he said.
Gore District Mayor Tracey Hicks was also surprised with the figures from ICNZ.
“I would have thought that would be much more than that, to be honest.”
The community was now really starting to feel the effect of the floods, combined with the Covid-19 outbreak, he said.
He could not recall any time when two major events like these had come at once, but the resilience of the Southland community was “legendary’, he said.