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Auckland-region flood claims top $70 million

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Torrential rain, thunderstorms and flash flooding across Auckland and much of New Zealand’s North Island in March has led to 7647 claims so far worth an estimated $NZ79.61 million ($72.12 million), Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) says.

There were 5634 domestic claims, 1310 commercial, 588 vehicle, 51 business interruption and 64 other claims.

Badly affected coastal community Tairawhiti had fewer than 100 insurance claims for the event, in which several schools closed and streets and motorways were awash with flooding across the Auckland region.

ICNZ CEO Tim Grafton says dense urban areas that are highly paved with inadequate stormwater systems lead to flooding and ongoing risks and costs. Taking action with how cities are built and maintained is essential as climate change impacts become more frequent and severe, Mr Grafton says.

“At-risk urban communities should be just as concerned about this as coastal communities are about sea level rise,” Mr Grafton said. "Pro-active, co-ordinated action to reduce the risks of climate change must be given much higher priority than it has been.”

Mr Grafton noted insurance losses from February’s Cyclone Dovi totalled $NZ44.43 million ($40.9 million), following a record $NZ324.1 million ($298.7 million) in general insurance pay-outs for extreme weather events last year.

Separately, the provisional impact within New Zealand from January’s Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai underwater volcano eruption and tsunami was 69 claims totalling $NZ5.94 million ($5.38 million).

The volcano erupted about 65km north of Tonga’s capital Nuku’alofa, causing a cloud of ash and triggering tsunami warnings for Tonga, America Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Zealand, the US, Canada, Japan, Chile and Australia.

Wave damage to the Tutukaka marina on New Zealand’s North Island left some boats submerged and other vessels and infrastructure damaged.