Northland has one of the highest proportions of people and properties negatively affected by weather disasters, with the region claiming tens of millions of dollars in insurance payouts in the past 18 years.

A study by Wellington's Motu Economic and Public Policy Research released this week, analysed past trends in weather-related insurance in New Zealand.

It listed 11 storm events since 2000 which triggered the highest public and private insurance payouts.

Northlanders were affected by five of the storms.

Advertisement

John Owens, who owned Kaeo Farm and Fuel up until December last year, was one of large number of Northlanders who received a share of the $12.5 million paid out in private insurance after the flooding which struck the region in March 2007.

John Owens and son Angus, prepare for flooding at the Kaeo Farm and Fuel store in 2012. Photo/Peter de Graaf
John Owens and son Angus, prepare for flooding at the Kaeo Farm and Fuel store in 2012. Photo/Peter de Graaf

"The majority of our claim was for stock food when the floodwaters came through our farm supply store."

The claim also covered clean-up costs, such as waterblasting. Some wooden shelving was replaced with metal shelving.

Owens said all up the claim was for $50,000.

Kaeo Farm and Fuel's forecourt submerged during a storm event in 2012. Photo/Peter de Graaf
Kaeo Farm and Fuel's forecourt submerged during a storm event in 2012. Photo/Peter de Graaf

Then a second major storm hit in July of the same year. Owens said by then the store had made some changes and weren't as badly affected. They put in a claim for $17,000.

"It caused a whole lot more damage on farms."

In particular he said fences and culverts were damaged worse than in the March event.

Private insurance paid out $68.6m after the second event which battered Northland and other parts of the upper North Island.

Advertisement
Then Prime Minister Helen Clark, MP Dover Samuels and Far North Mayor Yvonne Sharp survey the damage to Northland after the storm in July 2007. Photo/Greg Bowker
Then Prime Minister Helen Clark, MP Dover Samuels and Far North Mayor Yvonne Sharp survey the damage to Northland after the storm in July 2007. Photo/Greg Bowker

A weather bomb which struck the North Island, including Northland, in July 2008 cost insurance companies $26.7m altogether.

Ex-tropical cyclone Wilma again had those in the upper North Island, including Northland turning to private insurance companies in January 2011. This time $19.8m was paid out.

The most recent event on the list was seven days of heavy rain across the North Island in March last year. While parts of Auckland and Waikato were the worst hit, Northland was also affected.

Private insurers paid out $61.7m after this event.

It is unclear exactly how much of the private insurance payouts came to Northland, because the figures are grouped by disaster event and are unable to broken down into each region.

The Kaeo Rugby Club rallied to raise their clubrooms after being flooded in both storms in 2007. Photo/Greg Bowker
The Kaeo Rugby Club rallied to raise their clubrooms after being flooded in both storms in 2007. Photo/Greg Bowker

The report also details the claims paid out for weather-related public insurance by EQC - New Zealand's public insurer - during the period of January of 2000 and October 2017.

In Northland, 1363 claims were made to EQC and a total of $17,876,533 was paid out. That was the fourth highest total paid out behind Auckland, Wellington and Bay of Plenty.

That works out at 7.77 claims per 1000 people, a rate only bettered by Nelson, Wellington and Tasman.

A Bay of Islands schoolgirl was rescued from a tree during flooding in March 2007. Photo/Tania Webb
A Bay of Islands schoolgirl was rescued from a tree during flooding in March 2007. Photo/Tania Webb

In terms of properties, there were 20.75 claims per 1000 properties in Northland, which puts the region fifth behind Nelson, Wellington, Tasman and Bay of Plenty.

The study also found that although the average property in New Zealand is about 11km away from the coast, the average property lodging a claim to EQC after a weather event is only about half the distance away.

Aside from public and private insurance pay outs, councils are often left with clean-up bills after storms.

After Cyclone Wilma in 2011, Whangārei District Council estimated the total cost of cleaning up was about $7m, Far North District Council estimated about $5.2m and Kaipara District Council had a clean-up bill of around $600,000.

Whangārei District Council roading manager Jeff Devine said most of the damage the council incurs during storm events is to the roading network.

He said the council is entitled to claim extra subsidy from NZTA for storm damage repair works and at a higher subsidy rate depending on the size or value of the storm damage.

"Therefore councils do not generally insure roading assets as we all have access to this storm damage funding."

He said WDC has had a total of $15.4m in storm damage costs to the roading network since 2010.

The numbers

$12.5m: Northland flooding, March 2007.
$68.6m: Upper North Island flooding and storm, July 2007.
$26.7m: North Island weather bomb, July 2008.
$19.8m: Ex-tropical Cyclone Wilma, January 2011.
$61.7m: North Island heavy rain and flooding, March 2017.