September South Island Windstorm Cost $36.5 M Raises 2021 Extreme Weather Claims Total To $321.6 M
Gale force winds and storms between 9 and 13 September 2021 resulted in insurers supporting communities to the tune of $36.5 m. This is a significant rise, of $16.7 m, on preliminary figures for the event and lifts the end of year total for all extreme weather events in 2021 to $321.6 m.
In total, the September storms, which affected large swathes of the South Island and the Canterbury region in particular, resulted in 4,346 claims comprising mostly of domestic (2,360), commercial (1,337) and motor (583).
"This prolonged period of high winds and storms across much of the South Island once again shows the value of insurance to communities," said Insurance Council of New Zealand Te Kāhui Inihua o Aotearoa (ICNZ) Chief Executive, Tim Grafton. "It’s often times when severe damage is caused that people realise the true value of insurance. The average house claim exceeded $4,000 while storm damage to motor vehicles led to many being written off with average claims running at $10,870."
The September storms fit a pattern of extreme weather events that are being driven by climate change. As the world warms, there is more energy in our climate system which drives extreme weather events to become both more frequent and severe.
Last year was declared by NIWA to be the hottest on record for Aotearoa New Zealand. In December 2021, ICNZ released its preliminary total for extreme weather claims for the year of $304.9 m, breaking the record last set in 2020 at $274 m. The preliminary 2021 total included $19.8 m for the September windstorm. Now this event’s numbers have been finalised, so too has the total for extreme weather claims for 2021 at $321.6 m.