Natural disasters can put strain on both businesses and consumers. They may cause delays, cancellations, limited supplies, and home damage among other issues.
If you need general help to understand your rights or obligations considering recent extreme weather events, check throughout our website or contact the Consumer Protection helpline on 0508 426 678 for queries.
Here’s some common topics and links for more guidance.
Guidance on property damage
Need to make an insurance claim?
Take photos before you remove or repair anything and report it to your insurance company as soon as possible. Your insurance company will let you know what you need to do next, how to claim and, if applicable, how Earthquake Commission Cover from Toka Tū Ake EQC works.
The Insurance and Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme (IFSO) has useful advice on what to do if you’ve been impacted by extreme weather.
Natural Disasters(external link) — Insurance and Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme
If your claim is denied, you’re unsatisfied with the standard of repairs, or you’ve been told you must pay the excess cost, you can learn more about what this means and what you may be able to do here.
Contact your local council for guidance. If you are an uninsured homeowner in Auckland, contact the Auckland Emergency Management Emergency Coordination Centre Welfare team on 0800 22 22 00.
Repairs to damaged property
Before making repairs to damaged property, you should contact your insurance company and local council. This will give you the opportunity to explain your situation and learn your options. Taking pictures and videos of possible property damage may also be helpful.
If you are renting, you can contact your landlord to find out how they are responding to the damage.
When starting repair work, following guidance from your local council and/or insurance company is important, especially if your home has been issued with a red or yellow placard by a Rapid Building Assessor.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Building Performance team has information to help you and to ensure that remedial work complies with the Building Code.
North Island severe weather events 2023(external link) — Building Performance
Water damaged vehicles
Drying out your vehicle is not enough to rectify water damage. It is likely the water damage has affected the electrical and mechanical car systems as well.
Before doing anything on a water damaged vehicle:
- take it to your insurer to get it assessed, and
- visit the Waka Kotahi website for more detailed information on water damaged vehicles.
Water damaged vehicles – what you need to know(external link) — Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency
Travel delays and cancelled events
If you need help to know your rights around cancellations caused by severe weather, it may be helpful to learn about force majeure.
A force majeure clause in your contract will state the situations when the seller no longer must meet their obligations for reasons outside of their control, for example, earthquakes, floods, and other natural disasters. This clause can be found in all types of contracts, so it always pays to check terms and conditions and consider how they impact you before you sign on the dotted line.
See general guidance on your rights around cancelled events and travel tickets:
We can expect that recent weather events will impact the supply and price of some goods and services for some time.
While businesses are free to set their own prices, there has been some public concern about price increases. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has set up a PriceWatch tool for consumers to report concerns they have on pricing.
Report a price increase using PriceWatch(external link)
If you suspect a business is providing false or misleading information as to why prices have increased, you can make a complaint to the Commerce Commission on their website.
Make a complaint(external link) — Commerce Commission
Warning before buying damaged goods
When you’re buying used property, it pays to be careful. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if a product is water damaged before you buy. Buying from a business rather than privately gives you some protection from faulty or damaged goods but there’s other checks you can make before you buy.
Written off and damaged vehicles(external link) — Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency
Buying a house after a natural disaster
If your house got damaged in the floods, any electrical components (including plugs, sockets and charging equipment) that got wet need to be checked by an appropriately licensed electrical worker for safety.
Make sure the licensed electrical worker you hire is EWRB (Electrical Workers Registration Board) licensed - the fastest and cheapest option isn't always best. You can ask to see their EWRB ID card to check up on this.
If you are looking to find a licensed electrical worker in your town/city you can search on the EWRB’s online public register(external link) .
Get cyclone support from:
Civil Defence(external link) — offers guidance on what support is available and where you can get help in relation to Cyclone Gabrielle.
Work and Income(external link) — offers guidance on the Civil Defence Payment.
For more assistance on consumer issues:
New Zealand Claims Resolution Service(external link) — offers advice and support with insurance claims.
Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)(external link) — a free, independent service, run by volunteers. CAB can advise you on your consumer rights and obligations, in person, by phone, or online.
Community Law Centre(external link) — offers free one-on-one legal advice to people with limited finances. The organisation has 24 community law centres throughout the country. You can find legal information and other resources on its website.
For general enquiries please contact us