Hundreds of insurance assessors, some from as far away as America and Europe, have arrived in Christchurch to deal with claims after the weekend's massive 7.1 magnitude quake, says the Insurance Council.

Council chief executive Chris Ryan said today the international staff would help assess the "enormous" quake damage.

Insurance staff were working with local authorities, central government and other recovery agencies, he said.

Mr Ryan urged people to make claims, secure their homes, take photographs of damaged goods, and throw away perishable food.

Insurance industry call centres were "fully diverted" to ensure all claims were responded to quickly.