New Zealand Quake Commission Claims Hit $1 Billion

Chris Westfall
Chris Westfall

The New Zealand Earthquake Commission (EQC) has paid out over $1 billion in claims since the first of a series of earthquakes struck the nation in September of 2010.

The EQC has paid over 370,000 claims, according to a commission statement. The claims are the result of the initial magnitude 7.1 Canterbury Earthquake in September of last year, in addition to 13 separate aftershock events since that time.

A February 2011 magnitude 6.1 event alone destroyed large swaths of Christchurch and killed 181 people.

The most recent aftershocks were a 5.7 and 6.3 magnitude quakes on June 13 that caused damage in the Port Hills region resulting in 22,000 additional claims, the statement said. 

“This shows significant amounts of money flowing to claimants,” Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee was quoted as saying. “EQC has paid an average $3 million a day, and expects that level of payment to increase significantly.”

A key part of the claims process is the EQC’s residential building assessment process to measure structural damage. The statement adds that EQC is on track to produce a ”full assessment of properties” including assessments of severe structural damage by mid-July and all assessments “should be complete” by the end of the year.

“EQC is close to finishing assessments of properties that are now classified as being in the residential red zone.  They will then turn their attention to those in the orange zone and give people in those areas as much certainty as possible,” the statement said.

Earthquake claims are weighing heavily on the EQC. Reinsurance costs for the commission more than doubled during June 1 renewals, sources told Reuters, with one source questioning if EQC had enough reinsurance coverage for 2011.