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Record Land Claims A Reminder To Take Action To Protect Your Property

The record number of insurance claims for land damage this year are a reminder to homeowners to check their insurance cover and understand how to reduce the impact of local natural hazards, the country’s natural hazard insurance provider says.

In the past year, Toka Tū Ake EQC received nearly 3,300 claims for land damage caused by landslips, storms and floods across the country – 80% of all the 4209 insurance claims received in the 12 months to 1 December 2022.

This was more than double the number of land claims from these events in the previous four years.

“The stormy winter of 2022 was disruptive and often devastating for communities across the country and resulted in record numbers of land claims,” said Toka Tū Ake Chief Readiness Officer Kate Tod. “Notably, there was a huge increase in landslip claims, and these are usually complex and costly to fix.”

“New Zealand is one of the only countries in the world with insurance cover for residential land, provided through the Toka Tū Ake EQC scheme. Most private insurers here and overseas only cover the buildings on top.”

“We’re lucky to have our national scheme, but the EQC Act only covers land damage for up to the value of your insured land, up to eight metres around your home. For some homeowners with larger properties, that won’t cover the cost of repairing their land, especially when complex landslips have occurred. So, it’s important to know the hazards around you, understand your cover, and consider what you can do to reduce the risks.”

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Tod noted there had been a number of damaging floods and storms over the year. The August weather event had dominated claims, with over 900 claims made from the wider Wellington region and a further 970 from the Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough region.

As New Zealanders increasingly face the impact of climate change through severe weather events, Tod says that it vital for homeowners to protect themselves and make sure they know what they are covered for. She said there were a lot of things people could do to protect themselves and reduce the risk of damage to their homes.

“One thing you can do is to check your slopes and retaining walls are well maintained. If you have a long driveway or a shared driveway, consider if you can strengthen it against storm damage and make plans in case your driveway gets washed away,” says Tod, who emphasises that homeowners need to be aware of potential risks as Toka Tū Ake EQC or their insurance may not always be able to help.

Toka Tū Ake has advice for homeowners and communities to reduce their risks of damage from natural hazards.

“The summer holidays are often a good time to take action with a bit of time at home, and some warm weather,” Tod said. “While you’re off work, why not take some time to review your home insurance policy and check for any obvious exclusions? You can use an online calculator to make sure you have enough cover to rebuild your home if it suffers significant damage and assess your land cover.”

“No matter where we live in Aotearoa, whether you rent or own, there is a lot you can do to be better prepared and to keep your whânau safer for hazard events.”

Some suggested steps to reduce the risk of natural hazards at your property:

  • Know how to turn off gas, water and electricity in an emergency (mains gas should only be turned off in an emergency).

· Check your home insurance policy –have you got enough cover to repair or rebuild your home if it gets damaged?

· Check your slopes and retaining walls – they can crack or collapse after heavy rain or other natural disasters. Take occasional photos and compare them over time, especially after heavy rainfall.

· Clear out gutters and pipes to help stop water backing up if there’s any heavy rain

· Understand your land cover – insurance cover for residential land is defined in the EQC Act, and it has limits. You can read more online at www.eqc.govt.nz or talk to your insurer.

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