sign up log in
Want to go ad-free? Find out how, here.

Government to mull how NZ meets the costs of climate adaptation and invests in resilience, getting advice on flood insurance options

Insurance / news
Government to mull how NZ meets the costs of climate adaptation and invests in resilience, getting advice on flood insurance options
m
Image: Marlborough District Council.

The Government's climate adaptation plan, unveiled on Wednesday, doesn't specify who will pay for it. It does, however, make it clear that one way or another we all will.

New Zealand's first national adaptation plan, which aims to "build a climate resilient NZ," brings the Government’s efforts to help to build climate resilience together in one place, setting out priorities for the next six years.

The plan doesn't mention Flood Re, the British reinsurance scheme to support flood insurance in areas of high risk of flooding, that was canvassed in the draft plan. However the plan does say Treasury will lead work on developing options for home flood insurance.

In the plan's foreword Climate Change Minister James Shaw says central government won't bear every risk and cost of climate change, including climate change adaptation.

"Risk and cost will fall across different parts of society, including asset or property owners, their insurance companies, their banks, local government and central government. The Government can choose the role it plays and how it influences the way these costs and risks fall. Care will need to be taken to manage any perverse or unintended outcomes such as moral hazard. That is, inappropriate incentives to continue developing in at risk areas," Shaw says.

Speaking to RNZ on Wednesday evening, Shaw didn't add much detail to what's in the plan.

The plan itself says the Ministry for the Environment and Treasury will lead a programme of work on how NZ meets the costs of climate change and invests in resilience. It also says the Government will have received advice on flood insurance options and agreed to next steps by the end of 2022.

"Current New Zealanders share in the costs of managing natural hazard risk, through their own investment decisions, insurance, rates and taxes. Additional investment from public and private sources must also be facilitated where necessary to respond to the growing risks from climate change," the plan says.

"There are many processes underway that could change how New Zealanders currently share the costs of climate change. These include reforming institutional arrangements for water services, the Future of Local Government review and developing options for home flood insurance."

"The Government is also considering adaptation criteria for the Climate Emergency Response Fund and is launching its Sovereign Green Bond programme. In addition, it continues to explore other options to encourage climate-positive, resilient investment," the plan says.

"By the end of 2022, a dedicated webpage will be established to provide an update in one place on the range of work progressing across government."

Flood Re

Flood Re in Britain, meanwhile, is owned and operated by the insurance industry. It's funded by a mix of compulsory levies on all residential property insurers and reinsurance premiums on flood prone homes that are reinsured with the scheme. It's only available to homes built before 2009.

The draft plan asked whether a scheme similar to Flood Re should be used to address current and future access and affordability issues for flood insurance in NZ. The Insurance Council of NZ (ICNZ), which represents general insurers, isn't keen, saying there's no failure in the flood insurance market that requires an intervention.

"Reference to the Flood Re scheme in the United Kingdom is of limited relevance to New Zealand’s situation today. Flood Re was an initiative of the private insurance market arising from the unavailability of insurance in parts of the UK because insufficient investment had been made in flood risk reduction. It has a limited lifespan till 2039 when governments are expected to have invested sufficiently in risk reduction measures to return to normal insurance market conditions. New Zealand has the opportunity to avoid costly flood schemes that are not needed now and has time to develop a comprehensive adaptation plan to prioritise risk reduction," the ICNZ says.

In a recent episode of interest.co.nz's Of Interest podcast, Tower CEO Blair Turnbull, who previously worked for British insurer Aviva, gave his views on Flood Re. Turnbull also said that, while there aren't uninsurable areas in NZ now, "we want to make sure we don't have them in the future and that's the reason we must take action."

Treasury will develop options for home flood insurance, after David Clark, the minister responsible for the Earthquake Commission, pushed for a flood reinsurance scheme late last year. The plan sets out how a home flood scheme might work.

"It does so by paying out for losses and reducing the risk that the Government has to design ad hoc, post-event interventions to help communities recover. Home insurance could also bring other benefits, including signalling risk through underwriting and pricing, and giving homeowners peace of mind. Work is underway to increase understanding of the scale and timing of changes to the insurance market arising from greater use of risk-based pricing by insurers and flooding exacerbated by climate change," the plan says.

"This work includes exploring options to support access and affordability of flood insurance. The Government intends to develop options that ensure home flood insurance continues to play an appropriate role in supporting community resilience. How effectively flood risks are managed in Aotearoa, including adapting to the changing climate, will influence the scale and timing of any insurance issues."

"This work has important links with other risk management and adaptation initiatives to keep communities safe. These initiatives reduce communities’ exposure to flooding by giving them a better understanding of the risk they face, avoiding development in flood-prone locations, and increasing investment in flood protection. By the end of 2022, the Government will have received advice on flood insurance options and agreed to next steps. Further implementation measures will depend on the Government’s decisions on options," the plan says.

'Some assets could become uninsurable'

Additionally Treasury will lead a programme of work on improving consumer understanding of property insurance pricing and risks. The plan says this links to work on Land Information Memoranda (LIMs), as greater disclosure can help people make better decisions on where to buy and build property. Treasury will also monitor residential insurance premiums.

"Some assets could become uninsurable. This will create further issues if they are used as collateral for lending. The value of buildings exposed to coastal flooding could increase from $12.4 billion now to $26 billion for a sea-level rise of 0.6 metres, and $44 billion at 1.2 metres," the plan says.

"Insurance retreat would likely reduce private and public asset values, making households and firms or public entities less able to invest in adaptation. There are likely to be more insurance claims, greater damage repairs and higher premiums. Claims for extreme weather events hit a record $321.6 million in 2021, breaking the previous record set in 2020 at $274 million." 

*This article was first published in our email for paying subscribers. See here for more details and how to subscribe.

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.

25 Comments

Yawn Yawn Yawn - another talk fest, another Govt scheme and new taxes disguised as premiums.

We have been dealing with climate change for years already and will be for decades and probably for ever.

The river here had stop banks built on it 80 years ago and renewed about 10 years ago. Same as many other regions.  In future more work will be done

The doom merchants want to convince us that if we dont all act tomorrow we will be homeless next week - such bollocks.

And yes in places people already have to move away from the sea - think Wairarapa coast and north of Napier by way of example

 

Up
4

Great, another opportunity for government and the F.I.RE industry to collude on screwing us for money and autonomy.

Up
4

We fell for the covid scam.  Isolated the country.  Put us in debt to the globalists.  Great opportunity to bleed some more blood out of us turnips, in the sake of saving the planet because of global warming or is that climate change, "I am confused'.

Up
1

Yes, I think you are.

Up
3

I think it is the correct strategy for our country to look at adaptation policies early. I currently have zero confidence that there is enough global collaboration to keep warming to survivable levels. Whatever that will prove to be. Sadly whilst China and Russia are run by dictators with the urgent need to stay in power we are doomed to suffer. There is also the very real chance of a globe spanning war driven by the need to limit the influence of these two dictatorships. I think of some of the stories I heard from my relatives who fought against Hitler about standing up to bullies and risking the lives of your youth in order to stop the bullies and preserve your freedoms. I we don’t stand up to these two and limit their ambitions to their own sovereign territories we risk a rerun of the conflicts with Germany and Japan in the 1940’s.

Up
3

I/we discussed this recently and there in not a snowflakes chance in hell that I, or any of my whanau, will again send our young men to die on foreign battlefields for the likes of Ardern, Biden,Pelosi & Macron.  

Up
4

..conveniently forgetting about the US soldiers who died keeping the Japanese out of the Pacific.

Up
2

Ridiculous comment, Japan bombed US soil & clearly all bets are off if a Nato or US Alliance member is attacked. Ukraine and Taiwan do not fall into those categories.

Up
1

Conveniently forgetting about the 17 million Russian casualties.  Who actually won the war?  America got in when the fat lady had already sung and dropped the only nuclear bombs ever, on innocent civilians.  Sick.

Up
0

I think it is the correct strategy for our country to look at adaptation policies early. 

I don't disagree with that, except it should be mentioned that our existing laws already provide for a perfectly sound adaptation framework.

In other words, we don't need all this extra/additional burdensome and costly talk-fest-type bureaucratic work associated with adaptation policy and projects.

I'll ask interest.co.nz if I can do a guest post to explain why (what the existing legislative provisions are) and why I see the direction this looks to be going in as becoming an absolute bureaucratic noose around our necks.  The new adaptive planning process being touted will be a suitable lifestyle choice for academics, environmentalists, iwi and consultants.

Meanwhile no progress to actually action what is needed will be made.  Talk to the folks who have been involved in the adaptation consideration process for the last 10 years in the Hawkes Bay.  And to date, only one very small rock revetment has been built.  In the old days, Ministry of Works would have had it up in a fortnight.  

 

.

 

Up
1

Locals would also have had the new one "up in a fortnight" if bureaucrats had got out of the way

Up
1

And either way would have simply shifted the problem to a different location, for someone else to deal with/pay for.

Up
0

and thanks Kate  - it would be great to have your post

Up
1

Kate we don't need action, the ocean levels are constant.  If erosion happens on the foreshore then move.  If plate tectonics force the land up, stay.  No common sense, no more.  Still flounder in the same spot for the last 50 years.  Would be great if sea levels rose, so I could fish outside my backdoor and have to not drive my Hummer out to the beach (can't really afford the gas anyway).

Up
1

There has been quite a discussion over the last 15 years or so, here and other places.

How about you catch up, first?

Up
0

15 years and nothing has changed.  I observe.  No water level rises, no global temperature rises, no more extreme weather, plenty of fossil fuels.  I caught up by living in the USA (and NZ), always observing, the empty hospitals, lack of funerals, my unvaccinated buddies that bought Pfizer shares, always observing.  How about the wind turbines that don't even turn on a windy day and the solar panels powering a town on a cloudy day.  You keep reading the government or corporate sponsored media, their sponsored experts and believe that to be the truth.  Perhaps in down town Auckland, but that ain't so.  Problem with NZ and perhaps it was the lockdown, we have become ignorant to what is really happening around the rest of the world.  Maybe the media, corporate influence, but I can tell you with certainty, America is not going to stop consuming fossil fuels at an increasing rate.  Taking all bets.

Up
2

15 years and nothing has changed, eh? 

Well, that must be a long enough time series to assure the next three or four generations that they have absolutely nothing to worry about.

Seriously, mate, you've come to the wrong chat group. 

Up
2

In all honesty, who gives a fat flying about the next 3-4 generations if we have to depend on any politician to solve our issues. Governments can only do two things. Steal money for society by taxation, and then buy votes to keep them selves in power. They won't tackle any meaningful issue if fixing the issue will see them out of a job. It is proven that the only thing government can do is make life significantly worse for people, while enriching themselves and their cronies.

And as to being in the wrong chat group... The purpose of comment sections it to let diverse viewpoints exist to stand a Darwinian trial by combat, where only the worthy survive. That and to chuckle quietly at some of the more absurd points raised.

(As an aside, what is the point of having a spell checker that only offers you a paste option and no suggestions?)

Up
1

Re: Spell Checker - Select word, hold control key, right click badly spelt word

Up
0

..my unvaccinated buddies that bought Pfizer shares.  lol, I did exactly that!  Your friends obviously have "Rick" level cynicism (cf. Rick & Morty cartoon)  

Up
0

The correct strategy is no action.  No government.  Let nature rule.

Adaptation framework.  Adaptation framework.  You sound like the same bureaucrat's we don't need.

Up
2

Perhaps the almighty bullies (USA) can limit their ambitions to their own sovereign territory!  With 750 military bases all over the world, I am sure Mr Putin don't want one next to Russia's border.  Dictatorship?  Try protesting in Wellington.

The earth is not warming.  Period.  Come on down to Southland and I will prove my point, don't need no 'experts'.  Your are on the deep end and no wet suit for you.

Up
1

The end of the world must be somewhere near Clinton

Because the last commentator who was off the planet was Southland-based too.

Up
1

I think wars produce more carbon than we can save - so we ought to start there.

We're planting more trees that will need more carbon anyhow.

The climate has always changed - we simply need to deal with it. Let the free market rule. Coal in antartica. The Milford sound glacier now underwater etc. Climate changes. 

MBIE said they will not mandate solar PV on houses because it's too difficult. But we will need the power for all the EV's. UK now has regulations about what time of day you can charge them.

Up
0

I've seldom seen such an incoherent list.

You aren't from Southland too, perchance?

 

Up
2