Quake, aftershocks fuel thousands of insurance claims

Insurance companies fielding claim calls after the earthquake and thousands of aftershocks that struck New Zealand

Thousands of insurance claim queries are pouring in following the 7.5 magnitude earthquake that struck North Canterbury near Hanmer Springs this week, causing casualties and widespread destruction.

Following the initial quake on 14 November, there have been more than 1400 aftershocks, leading to major landslides in Kaikoura, blocking roads, and tearing down buildings in Wellington.

Kiwibank and BNZ customers are likely to face delays in contacting the lenders, with the banks’ main contact centres based in Wellington. BNZ’s Wellington office has suffered visible damage and is currently closed, according to a BusinessDesk update.

Heavy downpour led to flooding in Wellington, the Hutt Valley and the Kapiti Coast, with some residents having to evacuate homes.

The insurance claim team at IAG has been fielding thousands of claim queries from AMI and State customers following the quake, according to a company statement.

There was a “big spike” on Monday morning from 9am to 11am, as people were able to properly assess the extent of any damage in the daylight.

Calls dropped back throughout the day, but picked up again later in the afternoon; possibly as those from outside the hardest-hit areas have found time to assess damage.

IAG Insurance expects claims calls to pick up

The insurance company expects calls to spike throughout the week when those in the worst-hit areas get any communication services back up and running, and are able to refocus after dealing with immediate safety concerns.

Meanwhile, AA Insurance is urging its customers to only attempt to secure earthquake-damaged homes against storms if it is safe to do so.

MetService is warning winds in some areas may be strong enough to lift rooves and knock down powerlines. Strong winds and heavy rain are forecast to continue to hammer the country throughout the week.

Contact insurer for emergency repairs

Simon Hobbs, AA Insurance head of claims, advises customers to make contact if their properties’ need emergency repairs, such as mending a hole in the roof, replacing smashed window panes, or if they need to evacuate.

 “If it is safe for you to do so, then check your property and repair anything that may be damaged, or could cause damage to another part of your, or your neighbours’, property. Secure or store away items such as outdoor furniture or garden equipment that could be blown about in the storm,” Mr Hobbs says.

“However, even if there is storm damage on top of damage from Monday’s earthquake, you’ll still be covered by your insurance. There is no rush to make a claim unless you need us to arrange temporary accommodation or to do emergency repairs.”

But, because of the continuing aftershocks and the bad weather hitting the country, it is too soon to know the extent of the claims, Mr Hobbs says.

EQC takes care of the first $115,000 of house and $23,000 of contents damage, so customers with minor or moderate earthquake-related damage to home or contents are advised to contact EQC. But contact your insurer in the first instance, if you need temporary accommodation or urgent repairs, Mr Hobbs says.

AA Insurance advice for protecting homes

  • If there is water in your light fittings, turn your lights off and call an electrician immediately.
  • If it is safe to do so, place a tarpaulin over any areas where the roof is leaking.
  • Pull curtains and drapes over windows to prevent injury from shattered or flying glass.
  • Unplug appliances which may be affected by electrical power surges. If power is lost unplug   major appliances.
  • If the floors are wet, lift your furniture off the floor to prevent staining.
  • If possible, pack fragile items away until the aftershocks subside.
  • Don’t drive unless you absolutely need to. If your vehicle has been damaged, or suffered flooding, it may be unsafe to drive.
  • Secure or move your outdoor furniture inside, or any debris that could go flying during a storm or high winds.
  • Keep or take photos of any damaged items, including spoilt food if your power has gone off or any other items you may have needed to dispose of – this is useful to confirm with EQC or your insurer what needs replacing.


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