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Insurance considerations for the La Niña weather system

New Zealand is currently experiencing an extended La Niña weather system, which can mean flooding in the north and drought in the south. La Niña can have a significant impact on our climate, with possible disaster effects; in July 2022 alone, there were three extreme weather events in New Zealand, resulting in over 6,000 insurance claims*. The total insurance payments for extreme weather events were over $200 million for the year to the end of June 2022*.

Recent US weather service data showed the likelihood the La Niña weather system may linger for a third year in New Zealand. A "triple dip" La Niña can be rare and has only happened a handful of times before. An understanding of weather patterns can enable businesses whose operations are influenced by weather to plan ahead and prepare.

More northeasterly winds are characteristic of La Niña events in New Zealand, bringing moist, rainy conditions to the northeast of the North Island, and reduced rainfall to the south and southwest of the South Island. La Niña could also bring more heavy rain events to places like Gisborne, which has been lashed with storms in recent years.

At the same time, some areas, such as central Otago and South Canterbury, can experience drought conditions. Warmer than normal temperatures typically occur over much of the country during La Niña, although there are regional and seasonal exceptions.

It’s important for businesses to understand how their insurance cover could respond in the event of weather events caused by La Niña (such as flooding). As well as covering damaged stock, vehicles or equipment, the right insurance cover may protect you against lost revenue if your business is unable to trade as a result of extreme weather events.

If you’re unsure how well your current insurance mitigates the risk of extreme weather events, contact your local GSI broker for a review of your cover.

*Insurance Council of New Zealand (July 2022, September 2022).