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11 December 2018

Earthquake claims information

In the event of an earthquake in New Zealand, the Earthquake Commission, (EQC), provides natural disaster insurance for residential homes (usually up to $100,000 + GST), contents (usually up to $20,000 + GST) and a defined area of residential land. It’s called EQCover. You need to have your own home and content insurance to access EQC cover. 

We’ve put together some questions and answers about insurance cover and claims in the event of an earthquake, who covers what and who to speak to.

Contact us to review your home and contents cover, or check your business is fully should an earthquake occur.

How much time do I have to make a claim with the EQC?

You have 3 months from the damage occurring. We suggest you make a claim soon after an event, don’t leave it to the last minute.

Who do I need contact for personal home and contents claims?

EQC has signed an agreement with Insurance Council of New Zealand members. Private insurers will act as EQC’s agents and receive, assess and settle home and contents claims for earthquake damage from their own customers, even those claims that are under the EQC cap. For home or contents claims contact your insurer or claims team as listed on your policy.

Who do I contact for claims related to land?

EQC takes care of land claims and will assess land damage, as land is not covered by private insurance policies.

The EQC cover for land includes:

  • the land under the home
  • the land within 8 metres of the home
  • the land of the main access-way (or under or supporting the main access-way) up to 60 metres from the home, but not the driveway (i.e.) any artificial surfaces like concrete or asphalt that cover the access-way

The EQC’s excess on land is:

  • if the claim is for $5,000 or less the excess is $500.
  • for claims over $5,000, the excess is 10% with a maximum of $5,000
  • (These figures include GST). 

I need to make emergency repairs to my home and start cleaning up. What impact will this have on my claim?

  • You are able to secure your property and make temporary repairs for safety or to prevent further damage or discomfort.
  • Get essential services like toilets and water systems repaired immediately, but make sure you keep everything the repairer replaces (and keep a copy of the bill).
  • Clean up spillages or crockery and glass breakages, but don't throw away anything not perishable.
  • List any perishable items before you dispose of them.  
  • Remove water damaged property – the sooner it is out the drier your premises will be (especially true for carpets).

If possible, take photos before moving and repairing anything. This will help us to assess amount of damage.

What should I do if my home is uninhabitable?

If you are unable to live in your home, please lodge your claim with us and one of our loss adjustors will get in contact with you.

What are the EQC’s excesses?

For each domestic home and personal possessions (home contents) the EQC excess is 1% of the claim, with a minimum of $200 (incl GST). If the claim is only for personal possessions (home contents) then an excess of $200 (incl GST) applies.

Am I covered for the amount of the EQC’s excess(es) under my policy?

1. The EQC does not cover motor vehicles, trailers or boats.

Our policies cover:

  • Comprehensively insured vehicles – we insure these fully for earthquake damage.
  • Some vehicles insured for Third Party Fire and Theft (this may differ for different policies). However, if you have a Third Party Only vehicle insurance policy there is no cover for earthquake related damage.

2. The EQC coverage for personal possessions (contents) up to the $20,000 + GST limit excludes the following, but our policies cover most of them:

  • Jewellery, precious stones
  • Money, securities, documents or stamps
  • Works of art (e.g. paintings, statues, sculptures etc)
  • Explosives
  • Animals, including pets
  • Alternative accommodation
  • Intangible property (e.g. information stored on a computer)
  • Motor vehicle/trailer/boat/aircraft parts or accessories.

3. The EQC provides cover for each home up to $100,000 + GST. This EQC cover excludes the following but our policies cover most of them:

  • Drives or paths
  • Retaining walls, bridges or culverts more than 8 metres from the home, or if they are on the main driveway, more than 60 metres from the home
  • Tennis courts, whether inside or outside and whatever the surface
  • Jetties, wharves or landings (check individual wording as not always covered by us)
  • Fences, poles or walls (unless part of the building)
  • Drains, channels, tunnels or cuttings (unless part of the building)
  • Reservoirs, swimming pools, baths, spa pools, tanks or water towers (unless part of the building)
  • Burglary, theft or vandalism following an earthquake or natural disaster
  • Any bush, forest, tree, plant or lawn. 

4. The EQC does not provide cover for commercial building. If you have a mixed usage property (i.e. residential and business), you will need to check your policy for earthquake cover and whether EQC coverage applies. We insure commercial buildings provided the policy includes Earthquake or Disaster Damage cover.

What about business insurance claims?

In the first instance:

  • Take photos of all damage including any spoiled freezer/fridge contents
  • Arrange emergency repairs and secure your premises
  • Remove water damaged property – the sooner it is out the drier your premises will be (especially true for carpets)
  • Don’t throw property away – unless it is perishable in which case take photos and notes before you discard it
  • Seek engineer advice on the structural integrity of your building, and get clearance
  • Take account of lost business, lost production, staff wages and similar

Who do I contact for business insurance claims?

For business or commercial property damage please contact your broker or call 0800 CLAIM 1 (0800 252 461). In most cases, your insurance company will send an assessor to look at your property and confirm what repairs and replacements are needed.