Insurers brace for flood claims

MARTA STEEMAN
Last updated 09:22 06/03/2014
Emma Farmer flood damage
Kirk Hargreaves/Fairfax NZ
ANOTHER CLAIM: Opawa resident Emma Farmer calls her insurance company about flood damage. She had been back home for only two weeks after having earthquake repairs to her property.

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Insurers' phones are running hot, with hundreds of Canterbury storm and flooding claims filed already.

The country's biggest general insurer, IAG New Zealand, had received 600 claims by mid-afternoon yesterday.

IAG, which owns State, AMI and NZI and Lantern brands, said it fielded a lot of calls yesterday from customers in Christchurch.

"At this stage it is too early to quantify the cost of any damage. From past experience, the ultimate cost will be significantly impacted by how quickly flooding recedes and the drying out process can begin," an IAG spokesman said.

Tower said it had additional assessors on hand who would contact customers by phone within two hours of the claim being lodged to assess immediate needs.

Where possible, assessors would arrange make-safes with local builders before the assessor attended.

Tower spokeswoman Tracey Palmer said many claims were from earthquake-hit homes suffering more damage from the storm.

Customers were being told also about the temporary accommodation benefit.

The Insurance and Savings Ombudsman, Karen Stevens, urged residents affected to call their insurance company before they cleaned up.

"We have seen many cases where people have have cleaned up after a flood, thrown all the damaged items away, then had difficulty proving that the items were damaged," she said.

"Don't clean up before thinking about what you need to make your insurance claim," Stevens said.

The ombudsman's tips for claimants included calling the insurer before starting to clean up to ask what documentation would be needed for a claim and before anything was thrown away.

She said claimants should ask for confirmation of that in an email or a letter.

It was important to document the damage by taking photos or videos of the house and damage to belongings, Stevens said.

The Insurance Council said when the water levels dropped, residents should remove articles like water-logged carpets and bedding and air their homes to lessen mould occurring.

Homeowners should ring their insurers if they were uncertain about what to do, Insurance Council spokesman Tim Grafton said. They should tell insurers if there was damage posing a health risk so repairs could be done. Insurers should also be told if there were weather-tightness issues.

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- The Press

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