Unique insurance scheme supports Kiwis as risk of landslides increases
More New Zealand home owners are scrambling for their insurance documents as the country is increasingly battered by severe weather events.
Storms, floods, landslides and tornadoes have damaged land, infrastructure and homes in all corners of the country, but unfortunately not enough Kiwis know what they are actually covered for by their insurers or the EQC Act.
“New Zealand is fortunate to have one of a very limited number of insurance schemes in the world that offers any form of insurance cover for land damage from natural disasters,” says Toka Tū Ake EQC Chief Executive Tina Mitchell.
Mitchell says landslides are often the most visible results of severe weather events, cutting off roads and causing damage to residential properties and land, and an increasing number of homeowners are looking to Toka Tū Ake to help repair land damage.
“Although we’re lucky to have a unique scheme that covers both house and land damage, the scheme does have its limits, so it is vital that homeowners understand what they are covered for and what they are not.”
- Land under your home and outbuildings (e.g. shed or garage).
- Land within 8m of the your home and outbuildings.
- Primary accessways out to 60m from your home and fully within the property boundary unless you hold an easement over that land, (but not including an artificial surface such as concrete or asphalt).
- Retaining walls that support insured structures and insured land.
- Bridges and culverts as long as they are situated fully within the property boundary. (If any part of a bridge or culvert lies outside the property boundary the entire structure is not covered.)
Mitchell points to a number of media reports highlighting cases of homeowners whose properties were affected by landslides, but the damage extended beyond the limits of the scheme, and was also not covered by their private insurer.
“Situations that fall outside the scheme are heart breaking and as much as we wish we could help, we can only work within the bounds of the EQC Act, which has been set up to provide fairness across all homeowners, whether you have a tiny garden, a lifestyle block or 5km driveway to the main road,” says Mitchell.
Mitchell says that homeowners need to carefully look at the cover they have for features like driveways and bridges and prepare appropriately.
“That may include a conversation with your neighbours if your driveway crosses the neighbour’s land, or seeking advice on preventive steps you can take to shore up the parts of their property that may be at risk.”
The chief executive says that the historical name suggests the Earthquake Commission mainly deals with seismic events, but that landslides are in fact one of EQC’s most common claims, and over the past 150 years more New Zealanders have died as a result of landslides than have been killed by earthquakes.
“To better reflect that we help people recover from a range of natural disasters, not just earthquakes, we recently adopted a new name – Toka Tū Ake – which means the foundation from which we stand strong together,” says Mitchell.
As well as resolving claims after a landslide, Toka Tū Ake invests significant funding in research to better understand landslides, so we can reduce the impact of future storms.
“This research is shared with councils, planners and developers to better understand the landslide risks in certain areas, so we can actively mitigate the potential impact of future landslides,” says Mitchell.