At the anniversary of Cyclone Gabrielle, FMG's Head of Recovery Response Jacqui McIntosh shares her reflections of the year that has been.

Within a week of Cyclone Gabrielle, we had 3,500 claims lodged. That number would go on to double and then triple. FMG was on track for more than 12,000 claims from the Auckland Anniversary Weekend floods and Cyclone Gabrielle in early 2023. Combined they presented more claims than any other event in the Mutual’s history.

In the last 12 months I’ve seen the resilience of our rural communities – how they have pulled together and heard their stories. I've seen the patience and pragmatism from our clients as well as the determination from our own team to help.

These were the worst days and weeks, and in some cases months, of our clients’ lives. In our efforts to support them through these traumatic times we have achieved a lot over the past year. Here is a snapshot of some of the work that has taken place.

  • We’ve opened almost 12,000 claims and closed 90% of them.
  • Through the support of reinsurance we've paid more than $260 million into impacted communities.
  • We’ve sent more than 450 meals out to communities in need in Gisborne and Wairoa.
  • We proactively made personal calls to 6000 East Coast clients, helping them with claims and offering support for future needs.
  • Responded to the needs of 5,000 clients.
  • We have opened 726 EQC claims and closed 483 of them.
  • Our largest single claim paid to date from this event topped $20m.

The true cost of the events is still being realised. We can see this in our orchardists watching their fruit trees with bated breath. Wondering how they will yield and what fruit will make it to supermarket shelves both here and overseas. We can see it in our sheep farmers, furiously rebuilding yards, woolsheds and fence lines over the last 12 months in order to draft, shear and manage stock. We can see this in our homeowners, patiently waiting for Land Categorisations, for quotes and costs and architects, and rebuilding the homes they worked so hard to own in the first place.

FMG has been there to support the financial losses. But there has also been tremendous emotional and physical loss. As an insurer it is our core function to get people back on their feet when the worst things happen, and we also want to support their wellbeing and see those communities thriving again.

We still have a team working hard to find resolutions for our clients. I know they look forward to the opportunity to do right by them and live up to the promise FMG has made.

Here is some of what we’ve learnt along the way:

Following a major event, we understand the importance of learning from the experience and as an advice led insurer, we want to help our clients and Members be better prepared.


Underinsurance comes up every time we have a large event, especially when it comes to contents and buildings. This is driven by several factors, such as not reviewing existing cover at every renewal. Doubling your cover does not necessarily mean doubling your premium, so it pays to check.

Unspecified buildings and vehicles

Too often we see older farm buildings and lower value vehicles insured as “unspecified” with low values per item, with the assumption an event might see damage to just a few assets. What we saw in Cyclone Gabrielle was entire properties taken out with multiple vehicles and buildings damaged.

Farm fencing

Clients frequently underestimate the costs of replacing fencing and how much they have. What we know now, is that kilometres of fencing can be completely wiped out by slips and floodwater.

Understanding your cover

Read your insurance policy. FMG policy wordings are available online and give you the opportunity to learn about your cover and talk to us before something goes wrong. If you'd like a hard copy then give us a call and we can send one out.

Reviewing your insurance

At least once a year you should review what you have insured, how much you have it insured for and what is covered. Renewal time is a good chance to do this, or when you make changes on your property. If affordability is an issue, talk to us; there are options to consider rather than cancelling cover.

To learn more about any of these areas, please give us a call on 0800 366 46