Wellington earthquake: Insurance stand-down could last weeks

Insurance companies are refusing policies to new customers in central New Zealand after Sunday's 6.5 earthquake.

Insurance Council of New Zealand insurance manager John Lucas said some of the council's 27 member insurers had stopped taking on new business, which was a normal process after a big earthquake and also happened a number of times during the Canterbury quakes. The new business stand-down period could last for weeks, Mr Lucas said.

"It's basically until the insurers understand what's happened. [While] they're not accepting new business, they're still honouring renewals."

The stand-down was in place for all areas affected by the earthquake, from Marlborough to as far as Taupo, Mr Lucas said.

It was too early to know how many claims would be received as a result of the earthquake, he said.

"It's caused some damage that we're aware of. It'll be days before building owners will even know what damage they've got to their building and it may be weeks before insurers know what that is in dollar terms."

EQC spokesman Bruce Emson said people who had suffered damage to their property or contents from the earthquake had until October 21 to lodge a claim.

EQC covers earthquake damage to homes up to $100,000 and contents up to $20,000 for customers with a fire insurance contract with their insurer.

It was too early to say how many claims EQC would receive but by yesterday more than 350 had been lodged, mostly for minor damage, Mr Emson said.


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