Severe weather costing insurers more, but those affected still in recovery mode

Severe weather is becoming more expensive for insurers than ever, with floods, fires, and storms costing a record $248 million last year.

But those affected are still in recovery mode. When severe hail blanketed Motueka on Boxing Day, more than half of the region's crops were wiped out.

The glasshouse where Peter Pomeroy once grew over 1000 tomatoes remains shattered and he can't grow anything.

"It's hard, but it's a reminder of what happened," he says. "You see the devastation that the hail did to the whole Motueka region and you're not in it alone."

Preliminary figures from the Insurance Council show the hail storm cost insurers $41 million.

The total cost of severe weather last year, including the Napier floods and the Lake Ohau fire, hit a record $248 million.

Tim Grafton, Insurance Council CEO, says it's a record year for extreme weather events. But even that doesn't reflect the total cost.

"Insurance doesn't cover everything, so the total cost for people will go much higher than that," he says.

Treena Bradley's Plimmerton home was swept with knee-deep muddy water in November which "totally destroyed everything".

That flood cost insurers $4 million, but Bradley says the cost goes beyond money.

"It just takes its toll. You've still got to work, still got a job, and you've got to get a house fixed," she says. "A couple of hours of water literally destroys months and months of your life."

The Insurance Council says the impacts of climate change will see extreme weather events, like droughts and floods, become more frequent. It says we need to adapt. 

One way Grafton wants to see New Zealand adapt is by not building in floodplains. 

"The totally ridiculous and unsustainable approach to take is to sit on one's hands and do nothing about climate change and expect insurance to bear that risk," he says.

A risk that's already hitting home for victims of severe weather.