A set of "streamlined measures" to deal with the large volume of claims for earthquake damage is being developed, the Government says.

Gerry Brownlee, the cabinet minister in charge of the Government's response to the Canterbury quake, said today his committee had been working for two days with insurers, the Earthquake Commission (EQC), banks and local government to ensure the process of paying out claims was done as quickly as possible.

"I want to acknowledge the community spirit of all the parties who would usually deal with major claims, often over many months, who in this extreme circumstance are banding together to create a special process for those unfortunate Cantabrians who have suffered damage to, or have lost their homes," Mr Brownlee said.

Officials had identified four broad categories with the goal of delivering a speedy payout:

* Claims for property and contents damage or loss where there has been no structural damage to the building will begin to be paid out from early next week;

* claims below $100,000 but where there is structural damage to the building will be subject to a fast-tracked process, details will be announced early next week;

* claims with damage over $100,000 will be managed by a single point of contact for the homeowner; and

* for claims that involve only damage to chimneys the Earthquake Commission will work with the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority to offer the installation of a clean heat appliance as part of restoration.

There have been almost 40,000 claims to the EQC since Saturday's 7.1 magnitude earthquake, 30-40 percent of which were for structural damage.

Claims of minor contents damage would start to be paid out from early next week, Mr Brownlee said.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister John Key said 100,000 of the 160,000 homes in the region could have damage, though that is now expected to be lower.

More than 2300 homes are believed to be uninhabitable.

There are 36 assessors working in Canterbury, with more than 120 expected to be in the region by the end of next week.

- NZPA




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