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by Chris Tobin

The impact of last November’s freakish hailstorm in Timaru is not going away and the insurance costs have soared.

Car registration statistics from the NZ Transport Agency have shown the number of vehicles registered in the Timaru district in the first quarter of 2020 was more than double those for the same period last year.

In 2019, a total of 492 were registered; this year it has been 1144. Over the same time, registrations for Canterbury dropped from 7777 in 2019 to 7421 this year.

Timaru car dealer Roger Patterson said there had been a big shortage of vehicles to sell in Timaru in December.

“We had to beg and borrow from all over the South Island.”

Sales picked up in January and February as stock became available. During the Level 4 Covid-19 lockdown he said his company managed to sell online.

Last week the Insurance Council of New Zealand issued updated figures for weather-related losses during 2019. Finalising claims from the Timaru hailstorm showed the amount increased from $83million to $130.7million.

The Timaru hailstorm now stands out as the second-most costly weather event this century.

“The figures reflect the true cost of weather events and the vital role insurance plays in supporting communities,” insurance council chief executive Tim Grafton said.

“While the Timaru hailstorm lasted minutes, the destructive nature of the event was felt by thousands of locals.

“Insurance support for people equates to more than $2700 for every man, woman and child that live in the city.

“Events like the Timaru hailstorm show us how quickly costs can escalate.

“The updated figures make it the second most costly weather event since 2000, sitting just behind the 2004 Lower North Island storms at $148.3million, which was for a much larger region.”

The 2019 insured loses (preliminary figure)

Timaru hailstorm, November 20, $130.7m

Tasman district fires, February 5 to 23, $3.9m

West Coast wind, March 26-27, $4.09m

Taranaki and Auckland storms, August 10-13, $7.8m

Christchurch tornado, November 18, $4.04m