New Zealand on track for worst year ever for climate-related insurance claims

New Zealand is on track to have the worst year ever for climate-related insurance claims before the latest record-breaking July events are even tallied up.

It comes with a stark warning that insurance won't be available to the most vulnerable areas sooner than first thought.

It's news to no one that extreme climate events are on the rise.

Last year set a new record in New Zealand for climate-related insurance payments at $324 million and this year looks even worse.

"This year we're pretty much tracking close to $200 million and that doesn't include the events in July," Insurance Council's Tim Grafton told Newshub.

And July's already seen three big storms in less than three weeks.

"We used to experience over a five-year period maybe $500 million worth of extreme event losses, in the most recent five years we're moving to well over a billion," Grafton told Newshub.

Homeowners in vulnerable areas are still insured for now but the costs are rising year on year.

Climate experts have a stark warning for those living in hazardous areas.

"Any location exposed to a one-in-one-hundred-year flood is likely to lose insurance in the next 30 years," Climate Sigma's Belinda Storey told Newshub.

Storey said that's potentially tens of thousands of homeowners across the country.

"At least 10,000 houses, possibly as many as 40,000 houses are likely to lose insurance in the next 10-30 years."

Storey also added: "Some of those time frames are going to be sooner."

Research shows Christchurch and Wellington will be the cities first hit because of the tidal ranges but they will closely be followed by Dunedin and Auckland.

Christchurch City Council's Helen Beaumont said insurance is already challenging for some people.

"Insurance is already a challenge for those people in those flood-prone areas right across the country and a number of people already have very high excesses."

Climate research this year found New Zealand's sea level rise will be 30cm in some areas as close as ten years.

Despite all this building continues in hazardous areas.

The Government's National Adaption Plan is due to be released next month. The Insurance Council expects big things.

"Don't continue to issue consents to build in dumb places, that just adds to the problem," Grafton told Newshub.

 Storey said people need to be discussing with each other what to do as these hazards continue.

"We need to be having difficult conversations about whether can we actually remain in harm's way given how fast these hazards are changing."

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