Everyone affected by today's earthquakes should take photos or videos of damaged property before cleaning anything up, Insurance companies advise.

Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman spokeswoman Karen Stevens warns to only do this once it is safe to enter the property.

Claims to EQC have to be filed within three months from today.

EQC chief executive Ian Simpson says they will be monitoring the situation as it unfolds.


"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."

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If people need to take action to make their home safe, sanitary, secure and weather-tight, they should also record the work done, take photographs where appropriate, and keep a copy of any bills paid, Simpson says.

Reimbursement for temporary or urgent repairs is subject to EQC's acceptance of a valid claim. Any work needing to be done now will form part of a future claim.

Insurance company Vero say to be careful and check the structure of your building before going inside to evaluate property damage.

"If it seems unsafe, don't go inside.

"Try to put out any small fires, clean up spilled liquids and turn off any main water or gas valves if you think a pipe may be broken or leaking. Take care around naked flames, electricity or gas, broken items and any items that could fall."

If your property in Canterbury is under construction and has incurred new damage, a new claim should be lodged with Vero and the EQC.


Top tips for damaged property

• Document the damage before you throw anything away. Take photos or videos of all damaged items.

• List all the damaged items.

• Read your house and contents insurance policies to understand what cover you may have in addition to the EQC claim.

• Customers must have a home or contents fire insurance policy with an insurance company on their home at the time of the earthquakes to make a claim for damage.

• It is helpful if customers have the details of their insurance policy at hand when they contact EQC.

• EQC covers earthquake damage to homes (usually up to $100,000 + GST), contents (usually up to $20,000 + GST) and a defined area of residential land.


Click here to lodge a claim or email info@eqc.govt.nz. Alternatively you can call 0800 DAMAGE (326 243). The EQC call centre is open 7am to 9pm Monday to Friday, and 8am to 6pm on Saturdays. More advice on what to do after an earthquake can also be found here.