Tower firmly focused on Auckland's recovery
Kiwi insurer Tower remains focussed on helping customers recover and prepare for more incoming rain, amid rising claims.
Since Friday evening, Tower has received over 1,000 claims and counting in relation to flooding in the upper North Island.
Chief Claims Officer Steve Wilson says, the vast majority of claims are in Auckland for flood damage to people’s homes, followed by contents and vehicles.
“It’s too soon to estimate event costs but the damage is heartbreaking, the losses we are seeing are substantial. Around half of our house insurance claims are for four or more rooms affected, we’re also seeing total losses.
“As a business, we are marshalling all our resources at this to lessen the burden on people with swift action to help keep families safe and get back on their feet – that’s what we are here for.”
To help with high claims volumes, since Saturday morning more resource has continuously been added to Tower’s phone lines and online claims lodgement teams, both from New Zealand and staff in Fiji. Additional assessors began arriving in Auckland yesterday, with more set to join the Tower ranks flying in from the South Island and Australia today, now that international flights have resumed. To date, Tower has sent over 230,000 texts and 88,000 emails to customers in affected areas to check-in and provide insurance advice. Further proactive check-ins are planned today.
Mr Wilson says assessors on the ground are prioritising make-safe repairs, with builders and restorers already booked to start works where safely able.
“It’s all hands-on deck, but it’s not over yet. We are keeping a close eye on the situation throughout the country. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by heavy rain.”
With more MetService thunderstorm and heavy rain warnings and watches in place for the next 24-48 hours across Northland, Auckland, the Coromandel, Waikato, Waitomo, Mt Taranaki, lower North Island and the upper South Island, including Nelson, Tower is urging people to prepare for more wild weather.
“There are practical steps you can take to minimise potential damage so, we’ve put together some tips that we hope will help Kiwis prepare their homes ahead of more incoming rain.
“Above all, the safety of you and your whānau is the single most important thing. Only carry out these steps if it is safe to do so and please remember – we are here to help, do not hesitate to reach out to us if you need assistance.”
Here are some practical steps for Kiwis to keep in mind during a natural hazard:
Preparing your home for bad weather:
- Make sure gutters and drains are clear of leaves and muck.
- Regularly check your roof for any obvious signs of damage, particularly tiles and flashings. Practice ladder safety when carrying out checks.
- Cut down any loose tree branches and make sure fences are in good condition – remove or fix any loose boards.
- Ensure heavy items in your backyard are secure and won’t blow around, think trampolines, outdoor furniture and barbeques.
- Close all your windows and doors.
Insurance advice before an event:
- Always have updated photos and/or videos of your property before any damage happens and use these to assist you, should you need to make a claim.
- Pack and have a getaway kit on hand, including clothes, medication and copies of important documents you may need in the near future or that may be hard to replace.
- As a precaution, store personal valuables (family photos, important documents, jewellery) as high off the floor as possible.
- Make sure you listen to weather warnings and evacuate safely if required. If you’re travelling, take extra care on the roads, especially with long weekend traffic and drive to the conditions.
Insurance advice during an event:
- Keep across live updates to ensure you’re aware of the situation at hand and follow the advice of your local Civil Defence Branch.
- Practice caution – the same footing and roads you’re used to may not still be there.
- Do not attempt to drive through any flood water or water rising above the road, as you don’t the condition of the road underneath or the depth of the water. Even if you have made your trip many times before, heavy rain may cause slips road closures – the landscape may not look the same in this weather.
- Safely unplug all electrical devices to avoid damage from power surges. Turn power off at the mains if water has entered your house. Don’t turn it back on again until it has been checked by an electrician.
- If you have a household emergency plan, put this into action. Be prepared to evacuate quickly if it becomes necessary and consider which is the safest exit route.
- If you need to, or choose to evacuate, make sure you do so safely and your property is secure by locking all doors and windows.
Insurance advice following an event:
- If you’ve had to evacuate, only return to your home once it is safe enough to do so – follow instructions from authorities.
- Write down a list of everything that was damaged to ensure you don’t miss anything.
- If you can access any proof of purchase for items that were damaged, group these together with the above list.
- Don’t attempt to drive your vehicle if it has suffered water damage. If water has entered your property, don't turn on your electricity until it has been inspected by an electrician. Mark and take a photo of where flood water reached its highest within your property.
- Get essential services, such as water, electricity, gas and sewerage, repaired and keep copies of any invoices, you can do this prior to your claim being lodged and accepted.
- Read your policy wording – you might find out you can make a claim for something you didn’t know. If you’re unsure, do give your insurance provider a call to discuss what your policy covers, and what the next steps are for claiming.
- If your home isn’t safe to live in, check with your insurer if you are covered for temporary accommodation. Tower customers are covered for temporary accommodation under their house insurance policy.
- If you can, claim online by visiting tower.co.nz/claims/, with the aim of keeping phone lines as free as possible for those most impacted and requiring urgent assistance. For urgent enquiries please call the Tower team on 0800 379 372.
Tips for drying out homes and carpets:
- Record the damage using photos and video before you start any clean up. Don’t throw anything you need to claim on away.
- Clean up as much as you can. It’s helpful if you have a covered space to start drying out your things – you’d be surprised by how much you can save if they are dried early.
- For drying carpet, start by removing everything from the affected area and the excess water, open the windows and doors if you’re able to, to get as much air in the house as possible while you do this.
- Fans and dehumidifiers will also help dry carpet and remove moisture from your home.
For areas of New Zealand affected by heavy rain, Tower’s blog features helpful advice such as, what to do before and after a flood and what water and flood damage does your insurance cover?