Cyclone Gabrielle and the Auckland Anniversary Weekend floods resulted in the biggest job FMG has faced in our 118 years.

With more claims received than from the Kaikōura and Canterbury earthquakes combined, FMG’s recovery manager Jacqui McIntosh explains that learning from the past and our rural expertise has helped get money back into impacted communities faster than ever before.

The surge in claims that followed Cyclone Gabrielle and the Auckland Anniversary Weekend floods required an urgent, agile response – and our FMG team stood up to the task ahead. With a high number of impacted Members and clients, we knew we needed to move quickly, and move people around the business to increase the number of our people on the phones.

The claims rolled in exponentially and we quickly saw the impacts these events had had on our clients, their homes, businesses, and livelihoods. These are the type of claims that are all consuming for all involved.

By the end of February, we had more than 7,000 claims relating to these events—a number that continues to rise today—as the full extent of the damage and devastation to our clients is realised. At writing this, we have received more than 11,450 claims from the two weather events.

When the calls to lodge claims started, they did not stop, with our biggest day resulting in a 250% increase in calls compared to a ‘normal’ day. It has been a determined effort to pay more than $220 million to impacted communities – and get money back into the hands of our clients. I’m very proud of the collective team effort to get to this point of 80% of claims settled.

Even so, it has taken time. We have reinsurance relationships to honour. These allow us to ensure we have money on hand when our clients need it most – but they also need to know we are spending it wisely and correctly. There are only so many assessors to help us understand the costs of damage and what our clients are going to need to repair or replace their property. Demand for this capability from damaged locations across the North Island outstripped capacity.

I have watched our people going the extra mile, time and time again. Many have been here before. They were there for the Canterbury Earthquakes and again in Kaikōura, and they will be there for the next claim – be it big or small.

We know there is still a road ahead for many; we still have claims to settle, and we still have challenging processes to work through to fully understand the damage sustained, the value of property and if it can be repaired or replaced and, we still have clients facing uncertainty around the future of their homes and businesses. It is important that time is taken to make sure we all understand the future risks to people and property.

What I can provide assurance on, is that we are here for the long haul. FMG is part of the very fabric of rural New Zealand. We have been here for 118 years, and we will be here for 118 more.

(Photo caption) Isabelle Crawshaw and daughter Millie with Jacqui;Jacqui and Isabelle check out Cyclone damage to the Crawshaw farm in Patoka, Hawke’s Bay.