Insurance bill for August's devastating storm could exceed $48m

Almost $50 million in insurance claims have been racked up after the August storm that wreaked havoc across the top of the South Island.


Figures out today from the Insurance Council show there have been 3,165 claims with a value of $48 million as a result of the storm. However, that number will likely rise as more information comes in.

"This was a devastating event for communities in Nelson and the Marlborough Sounds in particular that will take a long time to recover from," said Insurance Council chief executive Tim Grafton.

So far this year there's been $298 million in insurance losses as the result of extreme weather events. That's almost equal to last year's $324 million, which was the highest amount ever.

Grafton said the more frequent, intense storms is a worrying trend.

"This just stresses for incoming councils the need to really start to make some good decisions around how you deal with the impact of climate change. Don't build in dumb places or don't consent in dumb places."

While Andrea Warn's Nelson home didn't suffer damage, there's a huge landslide on her property behind it. Her family has spend the last two months cleaning it up at their own cost.

Warn said the insurance process is complicated and they have no idea when they might be paid out.

"We're just in limbo, we're waiting. We don't know what to do, we don't know where to go and we've just been left," Warn said.

Across Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough 65 homes have a red sticker and 179 have a yellow sticker.

A red sticker means the home is uninhabitable, while a yellow sticker means there's been significant damage.

Some property owners have learnt they'll need another geotechnical report to get the stickers removed. Warn said it's unfair.

"That is at our expense and it's anywhere from five to six thousand dollars and that's if you can find a geotech."

Nelson recovery manager Neville Reilly said it is complicated and he has sympathy for the residents.

"Certainly it is an issue and maybe the insurance companies can help, maybe assistance from the mayoral relief fund."

The deadline to submit for assistance from the Nelson Mayoral Relief Fund has been extended to the end of November and he urged those impacted to apply.

Reilly said the impact on the region has been huge.

"When you think 300 to 400 slips, that's going to impact upon houses and that's more than we've seen in New Zealand in my memory anyway."

Almost two months on and while much of the land has dried out some of the larger slips continue to move.

Alana Pearce rented an iconic red and white cottage on Rocks Road which has been engulfed by a landslide.

Her family had just minutes to gather what they could.

"There's so much in there now, now that it's been seven weeks and um I wish I grabbed so much more. There's things that I miss, a lot."

When it rains she's seen more and more damage done.

"You can't get in, no one is allowed in to do anything. We can't try and fix anything because it rained last week and half the hill came down."

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