Insured losses for New Zealand’s North Island floods of Jan. 27 to Feb. 2 are estimated at NZ$1.75 billion ($1.1 billion), according to PERILS, the independent Zurich-based organization that provides industry-wide catastrophe insurance data.
This second PERILS’ loss estimate has risen from the initial estimate of NZ$1.65 billion ($1 billion), issued on March 15.
The loss estimate covers the property lines of business and is based on loss data collected from the New Zealand insurance market. An updated estimate will be issued Aug. 2, 2023, six months after the event end date.
The North Island Floods were followed by Cyclone Gabrielle less than two weeks later. Both events were unprecedented for the New Zealand insurance market and far exceed the previous record for weather-related losses, PERILS explained.
While Cyclone Gabrielle affected the entire North Island, losses from the January floods were concentrated in the greater Auckland Region, New Zealand’s most populated metropolitan area with 1.7 million people. Intense rain over the city on Jan. 27 and again on Feb. 1 overwhelmed drainage capacities and led to pluvial and fluvial flooding which damaged a large number of insured properties. The rainstorms were linked to an atmospheric river which collided with strong easterly winds that triggered heavy convective rainfall over the North Island.
“Compared to our first report, we have observed an increase in the industry loss of 6%. Insurers are not only managing a high volume of claims for this event but face the added pressure of responding to Cyclone Gabrielle claims which occurred less than two weeks after the floods,” commented Darryl Pidcock, head of PERILS Asia-Pacific. “There are added complexities given the overlap in some regions with losses from Cyclone Gabrielle. Notwithstanding, we greatly appreciate the support of our insurance partners during such difficult and challenging times for the industry.”
Photograph: An excavator works at a home badly damaged by flooding and landslides in Auckland, New Zealand, on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023. (Alex Burton/New Zealand Herald via AP)
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