Two major insurers say it's too soon to predict if a spate of bad weather events will push up premium prices in flood hit areas.

Insurance claims relating to natural disasters may already have exceeded $100 million so far this year after a raft of cyclones and major storms hit the country in March and April.

The cost of March's Tasman Tempest storm alone was $42m while costs for Cyclone Debbie and Cyclone Cook which saw the town of Edgecumbe evacuated are expected to run into the tens-of-millions and combined exceed the March storm.

Excluding last November's Kaikoura quake (which has yet to have a final cost put on it) natural event claims for the whole of 2016 were $51.7m, according to the Insurance Council of New Zealand.


Brendan McGillicuddy, home national portfolio manager for IAG, said insurance premiums already factored in weather events and a single extraordinary event was unlikely to substantially affect future premiums.

IAG is the country's largest insurer and its brands include State Insurance, AMI, Lumley and NZI.

But McGillicuddy said certain weather events could highlight particular risks associated with flood prone locations which the insurer may not have previously known about. This could affect premiums, he said.

"This may give rise to more targeted increases in pricing to reflect the higher risks associated with certain locations and in some instances can lead to special terms or conditions applied to policy coverage such as higher excesses or more restrictive cover.

"This is all about balancing the future risk of loss or damage occurring with coverage provided and at what price."

Asked if Edgecumbe residents could be in line for higher premiums as a result of the recent storm an IAG spokeswoman said it was too early to say.

"It is too early at this time to determine if the recent weather events will impact the insurance we can provide in the future, and we are keen to continue to work with the council to understand the level of risk."

Adam Heath, executive general manger portfolio and products at Suncorp New Zealand, said the insurer, which owns the Vero brand, would consider the recent storm events in any future pricing decisions but right now its concern was with helping customers affected.

"Like all insurers, Vero continues to pay close attention to the impact of claims events on our business.


"We are committed to ensuring that we will always be there to pay New Zealanders' claims in the long term, and to do this we need to ensure that premiums are priced appropriately, our reinsurance programme is robust, and that our end-to-end claims process is as efficient as possible."

Heath said it had begun a roll out of changes to premiums in November across a number of general insurances as a result of increased volume and severity of insurance claims, including more cars on the roads, demand creating higher construction costs, increased compliance, and a spike in small value contents claims for devices like phones and tablets.

A spokeswoman for AA Insurance said it did not plan to increase premiums as a direct result of the major weather events but other factors were likely to drive a price increase over the next year.

"We know that these types of weather events are expected to occur each year, and so they are already factored into our premiums.

"However, building costs are increasing for all types of events - not just storms - and so we may expect a slight price increase in premiums over the next year."

Craig Lough, an actuary specialising in general insurance at Melville Jessup Weaver, said
he didn't expect to see any premium increases caused by the storms so far but it may depend on how many more storms New Zealand is hit by this year.

"We as an industry expect to have storms. All things being equal there shouldn't be an increase."

But he said Edgecumbe residents and other areas badly impacted by flooding should be concerned as they may face targeted policy changes.

Targeted policy changes can include an increase in excess, premium increases, the requirement for mitigation of risks or at worst refusal to insure.

A spokeswoman for the Insurance Council of New Zealand said individual insurers may
respond differently depending on their appetite for risk and how they price that risk.