By the Re: team
Flooding over the weekend has disrupted the lives of thousands of people around the upper North Island - but do you know your rights when it comes to dealing with those disruptions?
Consumer NZ has released advice for New Zealanders impacted by flooding, covering everything from the really major (“my house has been completely ruined”) to the very minor (“Gosh, I’ve got dinner reservations, but I don’t think I’ll get there.”)
Here’s what you need to know.
This is a big one - which is why the Re: team has compiled this separate handy guide so you don’t wind up paying rent for a flooded home that you can’t live in anymore.
Insurance for flood and storm damage
If you’re lucky enough to be able to afford insurance, there are a few things to be aware of while you deal with your flooded property.
Be sure to take photos of any and all damage and make contact with your insurance company as soon as possible.
The quickest way to lodge an insurance claim is usually through the company’s website.
If you own your home and have private house insurance, it will most likely include fire insurance. Consumer NZ says this means you will also have EQCover, which provides some cover for damage to residential land during a storm or flood.
Consumer NZ says people should contact their house insurer as it will manage any EQCover.
EQCover will also cover damage to your home or surrounding land if a landslip takes place.
Thousands of travel plans were disrupted over the weekend as Auckland Airport dealt with the deluge of rain on Friday night.
But when a domestic flight is cancelled due to bad weather, the airline doesn’t have to refund you or reimburse you for any other costs.
Consumer NZ says your rights to a refund depend on the type of airfare you have.
If you bought a refundable fare, you can get a refund regardless of why the flight was cancelled.
If your flight isn’t refundable, an airline may rebook you on to another flight or give you a credit.
Air New Zealand is offering flexibility on all flights to and from Auckland, with domestic travellers able to get either a credit or defer travel up until February 6.
If your flight was an international one, your rights depend on a number of things, including which country you’re in and which airline you are flying with.
But an airline will usually rebook people on to other flights or provide a credit if a flight is cancelled for reasons beyond its control.
Again, if you have a fully refundable ticket, you can ask for a refund.
If you have travel insurance, contact the company to see if your policy covers the cancelled flight or any other costs.
Cancelled Airbnb bookings
If flooding means you have to cancel an Airbnb booking, Airbnb’s extenuating circumstances policy applies.
Consumer NZ says that policy overrides the usual cancellation policy, meaning you should get a credit or refund.
If an Airbnb host has to cancel your booking due to flooding prior to your arrival, you should automatically get a full refund.
What about other holiday bookings?
If flooding means you have to cancel other accommodation bookings or a rental car booking, your rights to a refund will depend on the terms and conditions that should have been given to you at the time of booking.
While cancellation fees may apply, a trader can only do this if the terms in place at the time you made the booking apply - and are fair.
Consumer NZ says companies cannot charge whatever they like and a term that says the company can charge a significant cancellation fee could breach the Fair Trading Act.
Many concerts and festivals due to take place over Auckland Anniversary weekend had to be cancelled because of the weather.
In that instance, you should automatically get a refund from the event’s ticket agent. This is usually made to the card that was used to buy the tickets.
Be patient, as the ticket agents will likely have a large number of refunds to process. But if you don’t hear from them and don’t get a refund, contact your bank and request a chargeback.
Can’t make it to dinner?
Consumer NZ says if you had a booking at a restaurant and couldn’t make it to dinner because of flooding, the contract between you and that establishment is likely “frustrated”.
This means it wasn’t possible for you to hold up your end of the deal and you shouldn’t be charged for a no-show.
Here’s an update on the key things that happened on Monday.
A train has derailed, a bridge has collapsed and houses caught in landslides near Tauranga.
Please visit your local health provider as well.