The Insurance Council of New Zealand says insurers will be preparing for an influx of fresh claims after last night's earthquake, but it is too early to estimate the cost.

Chief executive Tim Grafton said earlier this month that insurers had settled 94 per cent of all Canterbury residential property claims and 95 per cent of commercial claims.

Since the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, private insurers have paid out nearly $19 billion.

"There will no doubt be another influx of claims after last night but it's far too early to be able to tell the extent of the claims and of the damage," Grafton said.


Read more:
Tim Grafton: Insurance and the 7.5 earthquake

"It is still just several hours afterwards and engineering assessments will need to be done. The reports we're picking up suggest that a lot of the damage will be at the minor end but there has certainly been some properties that have been more severely damaged," he said.

"It is just far too early though to have a picture of the extent of the damage and the cost of the damage."

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) said those with damages to their home, land or property had three months to lodge claims with the EQC and should keep in contact with private insurers.

EQC chief executive Ian Simpson said this was plenty of time to make a claim to the Commission, which usually covers up to $100,000 of damage and $20,000 in contents.

"It can take some time for the picture regarding claims to emerge as people come to terms with what's happened and had a chance to take stock of what's happened to their properties," Simpson said.

"EQC senior managers met this morning, and we will be monitoring the situation as it unfolds."

People were also being advised to photograph and document any damage to help with the insurance process.


The latest quake is the largest in the area since the 2013 quake in Seddon, Marlborough which saw more than $30 million in insurance claims.

Claims can be lodged online or via email on