Insurance company's warning to underinsured Kiwis after severe weather events

The flooding in Napier last month is set to be the most costly weather event of the year with insurance providers expected to pay out $70 million in claims.

Across Napier, the clean-up job is enormous. And its cost is still being counted from thousands of insurance claims.

Insurance Council of NZ (ICNZ) chief executive Tim Grafton says the figures are still coming in.

"The figures are still coming in for Napier so in terms of dollar insured losses we would expect something in the order of $70 million-plus," he says.

That's forecast to take the cost of insurance payouts for severe weather events this year to more than $200 million.

The Southland floods in February totalled nearly $30 million. Storms in June and July across the upper North Island caused more than $61 million of damage. 

And the Lake Ohau fire in October cost nearly $35 million.

The devastating fires destroyed dozens of homes, including Norm MacKay's.

"I salvaged my wedding ring and that was it," he tells Newshub.

MacKay was also reunited with his dog Milo in the days after the blaze.

That's when he and many other Lake Ohau residents realised they were underinsured - some by tens of thousands of dollars.

"Having spoken to anyone who did lose their home... there was none of us prepared, none of us had actually in years looked at our insurance policy," MacKay says.

Napier resident Freeman White was on the roof of his house when a landslide crashed into the back of it.

His two-year-old daughter Bella was in the bath when it hit the bathroom wall.

"That's our bathroom, that's where my daughter was in the bath," he says.

It's a similar story for him - White hadn't checked his insurance in five years.

"We didn't have contents insurance but we were lucky enough we were able to salvage a lot of our possessions," White says.

The Insurance Council warns updating your details is crucial.

It estimates one in three homeowners are underinsured and only 42 percent of renters have contents covered.

"They probably don't realise the benefit that they can get if there is a natural disaster. They can get up to six months' accommodation out of their insurance if the place is uninhabitable," Grafton says.

Both MacKay and White are planning to move back into their homes sometime next year. 

They're encouraging Kiwis to keep on top of their policies so that if disaster hits they have the cover they'll need.