Five significant storms cost insurers an estimated $86 million last year, the Insurance Council said today.
Two of the worst happened in July.
The first involved windstorms and flooding which affected nearly all parts of the North Island on July 26 and 27, costing $26 million.
This was followed by another storm on July 30, which caused even more damage to areas in the lower South Island and the North Island and cost $42 million.
The council said July saw the largest number of storm insurance claims being lodged in a single month, 23,755.
In August heavy rain brought flooding to North Canterbury through to Marlborough costing $500,000.
On October 17 a tornado struck Cambridge during the night, damaging roofs to a large number of homes including a retirement home, and resulting in 175 claims.
A month later a damaging hailstorm hit Canterbury. The hailstorm lasted only minutes but damaged around 3500 vehicles.
A large number of homes had their spouting and conservatories damaged, and many skylights in commercial buildings were also damaged.
Council insurance manager John Lucas said insurers were still counting the cost of the November Canterbury hail storms estimated to cost between $10 million to $12 million.
Soon after the hail storm insurers began using specialist "paintless dent removal" experts brought in from the United States, South Africa and Australia to work on the many damaged cars.
He said the number and cost of last year's severe weather events was slightly down on 2007 where insurers paid out $97 million for seven large weather events.
In 2007 insurers paid out more than $1.7 billion in claims covering all forms of property and liability insurance.
"Insurers continued to report reduced profitability in 2008 due not only to these weather-related events, but also to an increasingly large number of household and commercial fires," Mr Lucas said.
The Insurance Council was now seeing insurance premiums in 2009 rising.
Climate-related risk was now a top priority for insurers and should also be one for all New Zealanders," he said.
"The sheer range of storms from winds, frosts, flooding, tornados, ice, hail and even drought mean all New Zealanders must take climate risks very seriously.
"Check your insurance policies, maintain your homes properly, reduce the risk of your property flooding if possible, and ensure you have adequate plans in place to cope with unexpected events."
Summary of weather-related claims:
* Heavy rain and wind - North Island, July 26 and 27 2008; total payout by insurers $26,660,966.
* Heavy rain and wind - nationwide, July 30 - August 1, 2008; total payout $46,290,724.
* Flooding - North Canterbury and Marlborough, August 26, 2008; total payout $521,466.
* Tornado - Cambridge, October 17, 2008; total payout $906,334.
* Hail storm - Canterbury, November 17, 2008; estimated cost to insurers between $10 million and $12 million.