NZ close to breaking record for annual storm damage cost only halfway through 2018

New Zealand is close to breaking its record for the most expensive year for storm damage, only halfway through 2018. 

There’ve been more than $200 million worth of insurance claims caused by extreme weather already this year. Source: 1 NEWS

Latest figures show there have been more than $200 million worth of insurance claims caused by extreme weather.

The country has taken a battering this year and its costing more than first thought.  

Ex-Cyclone Fehi caused chaos on the West Coast in February, insurers paying out $45.9 million.

Soon after former Cyclone Gita cost $35.5 million.

In April, heavy rain destroyed dozens of homes in Rotorua causing $16 million worth of damage.

"Climate change is upon us. We've seen the biggest year last year. We've seen this year looking like it's going to be the biggest," said Tim Grafton of the Insurance Council of New Zealand.

The cost of weather-related damage has been rising. It peaked last year at $243 million. And after just four months this year, the cost is already at $204 million.

This year is unlikely to be the last record-breaking year which is why researchers are looking into which types of buildings are most likely to be damaged in a storm, to prevent the clean-up costs spiraling.

"We've noticed that new buildings are highly susceptible to flood damage. And this is because new buildings are generally constructed on concrete slab foundations which are located lower to ground level," said Ryan Paulik, NIWA hazards analyst.

With the risk insurance premiums could rise Mr Paulik is warning councils and builders need to be preparing for more storms.

"Those constructing those buildings need to be thinking about what flood resistant materials can be used inside buildings to lessen the damage," he said.

The record could be broken sooner than expected, with costs from recent storms, including the flooding in Gisborne this month, yet to be calculated.