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Claims process

When you make a claim, there are a number of steps that you and your insurer need to work through to resolve it. The process typically includes making a claim with your insurer, assessment of the damage, finding out the outcome of your claim, and where the claim is accepted, you’ll usually receive a cash settlement. This can take some time, and your insurer is usually the best point of contact for updates on progress of your claim.

The safety of you and your whānau is the priority after any natural hazard event. Look after yourself and help others if you can.

You should talk to your insurer before you start making any urgent repairs to make your home safe, sanitary, secure, and weathertight.

1. You make a claim

Contact your insurer to make a claim if your home is damaged by a natural disaster. Most insurers work on our behalf to assess and manage your claim from start to finish. They will be your single point of contact during the claims process and can answer any questions you have. You can usually make a claim online or over the phone.

Insurers and their contact details.

EQC Toka Tū Ake manage a small number of claims directly. Please contact us if:

If you are unsure who you should contact, please call us on 0800 DAMAGE and we can help.

It’s important to make your claim as soon as practical after a natural hazard event.

We encourage you to make your claim within three months following a natural disaster.

You have a maximum of two years to lodge a claim for damage after a natural hazard event. However, any delay beyond three months may affect the ability to assess your claim, and could result in your claim being declined.

Before you start cleaning up after a natural hazard event, it’s important to take photos of any damage. Take photos before you repair, move, or get rid of anything. These photos will support your claim and help your insurer understand the amount of damage to your property. Without proof of damage, it may be more difficult for your insurer to resolve your claim.

Read more about how to take photos to support your claim.

2. Your insurer assesses the damage

After you’ve lodged the claim, your insurer will assign you a claim manager, who will be your main point of contact during the claims process. Your claim manager will be in touch with you to explain what happens next and organise any insurance related assessments of damage to your property.

You should make sure you ask to see identification anytime an insurance representative visits your property and ask the insurance representative to explain the purpose of the visit and what happens next. You might also receive visits from specialists for reasons other than insurance, such as council assessors.

During the insurance assessment process, you might receive visits from multiple specialists depending on the type of damage that has happened to your property. Sometimes more than one assessor will visit your property at different times due to the nature or timing of reported damage, for example if you have shared land or report additional damage.

Assessment for a building claim might include a visit from a:

  • Loss adjuster or assessor who will produce a full record of damage to your home and any other separate insured buildings.
  • Structural engineer who will produce a more specialised report, if the damage to your home is severe.

Assessment for a land claim might include a visit from a:

  • Loss adjustor or assessor who will produce a full record of the damage to the insured part of your land, including any insured bridges, culverts and retaining walls.
  • Geotechnical engineer who will produce a report that describes the cause of the land damage, and how to repair it.
  • Registered valuer who will determine the value of your insured, damaged land and any insured bridges, culverts and retaining walls.

Once these assessments are complete, the assessor or loss adjuster will create a scope of works based on the outcome of the reports. The scope of works outlines all the natural hazard damage that needs to be repaired and the estimated costs of those repairs.

If you are contacted to discuss the details of your claim, it’s your responsibility to:

  • communicate everything you know about the natural disaster damage and how it happened
  • provide copies of any documents that are requested to support your claim.

For damage to your land, your scope of works will outline the remediation strategy, which is the proposed approach to repairing the land. The remediation strategy is a conceptual approach to the repairs and helps us determine the estimated costs of the repairs. This is then compared to the value of your damaged land to work out your how much you might receive in your settlement. The scope of works for land damage is not a quote for actual construction or repair costs.

Assessing damage to land can be complex and take time to complete. It’s difficult to say how long this process might take, but homeowners can generally expect complex land claims to take some months. The timeline might also be impacted if a property is deemed unsafe and access is restricted, or if the land is still moving. In situations where lots of people in the community have been affected there can be a high demand on specialists. We encourage you to stay in touch with your insurer to understand your claim’s progress.

Council placards are also called red or yellow stickers, or section 124 prohibited access notices. They are issued by your local council or Civil Defence if a building is insanitary, dangerous, or a risk to people's safety, under section 124 of the Building Act. Officials may also issue a notice if they assess that a risk that has not yet happened is likely to happen, such as potential rockfalls or unstable land.

A notice that restricts access to a building can mean that it is unsafe to carry out insurance assessments and may delay your claim. Assessors will be unable to enter your property until the council has decided it is safe.

Your council will be able to give you more information about what the notice means for your property, and the steps you can take to have it removed.

Any specialist reports required by your council to remove the notice are focused on safety. These are different from the specialist reports needed to process your insurance claim, which focus on assessing damage. You can expect multiple specialists will visit your property for these separate purposes.

When natural disaster damage impacts a number of properties (such as landslide damage affecting a number of neighbours), or the land is shared (such as a cross-lease or a shared driveway), insurers will work together to manage your land claim and your neighbours’ land claims. This streamlines the assessment process and helps to deliver the best outcome for all the homeowners involved.

Insurers will work independently to assess the building portion of the claims and will nominate one insurer to be the land assessment lead for the land claims.

The land assessment lead is responsible for engaging a geotechnical engineer, completing any additional site assessments, and finalising the geotechnical reports. The insurers will then work together to review any reports and agree on the remediation strategy.

The remediation strategy is the proposed approach to repairing the land, and the estimated cost of doing that work. This is then compared to the value of your insured damaged land to work out how much you are entitled to. Your insurer will discuss the suggested remediation strategy with you.

Once the land claim portion has been finalised, your insurer will be able to confirm your total building and land claim settlement.

3. You are notified of the outcome of your claim

Once the assessment is complete, your claim manager will be in touch to discuss the outcome of your claim.

If your insurer accepts the claim, your claim manager will be in touch to talk about how your settlement will be paid and answer any questions you might have. They will also provide you with settlement advice documents before the claim payment is made.

Your settlement advice documents include:

  • the total settlement amount
  • any amounts deducted from your settlement, such as the excess
  • the scope of works detailing the natural hazard damage to your property
  • the estimated cost to repair that damage
  • other supporting expert information e.g. engineering reports and valuation reports.

You are encouraged to keep a copy of these documents for your records.

If your insurer doesn’t accept the claim, your claim manager will be in touch to discuss the reasons why. You can expect to be given a clear explanation as to why it has not been accepted, and copies of any specialists’ reports for your records. If you have questions about why your claim has not been accepted, please contact your claim manager.

If you are unhappy with the outcome of your claim, including your settlement amount, you should discuss this with your insurer.

Learn more about making a complaint on our website, or on the Insurance Council of New Zealand website.

4. Cash settlement

When a claim has been accepted, you will usually be paid money to replace or repair the damage to your property, up to the building and land caps. This is called cash settlement.

By accepting a cash settlement, you agree that:

  • the information that you provided is true and accurate
  • you have not held back any information.

Contact your claim manager if you realise that any of the claim information you provided is no longer accurate, or you have new information.

Cash settlement gives you the flexibility to choose your own contractors and decide when to start the work. When picking a contractor, you need to make sure they have the right skills and experience. All repairs must be done to a good standard and within the law. This includes getting new building consents if needed.

Settlement funds must be used to repair or rebuild your property. You can also think about having other building work done at the same time, such as renovating or adding insulation. You would be responsible for paying for this, on top of repairing the natural disaster damage.

It is important that the payment is used for the purpose of repair or rebuilding your damaged property. If your payment isn't used for this purpose, in some situations we might limit or cancel your access to EQCover. If you are unsure about this, please speak to your claim manager.

There is a maximum that we can pay towards repairing or replacing your property for each natural disaster that happens.

For your home, this maximum amount is generally $300,000 plus GST, and is called the building cap. Cover for any amount above this cap will be provided through your private insurance policy.

Your total payment amount (your settlement) will be based on the replacement value of your home. Replacement value is the cost to repair or replace your home to a standard that is similar to when it was new. Refer to the EQC Act for a full definition of replacement value. However, the maximum settlement amount that you can be paid is set out in your private insurance policy.

For land claims you are covered for the cost of repairing damage up to the value of your insured damaged land. If the cost of repairing the damaged land is more than the value of that land, settlement will be based on the market value of the portion of land that was damaged. This is the maximum amount that we can pay and is also called the land cap.

The land cap is calculated by adding:

  • the market value of the parts of your insured land that have been damaged or lost, and
  • the indemnity value of any damaged or lost insured retaining walls, bridges and culverts.

Read more about Cover for your home and land on the About EQCover page.

When another person or organisation is recorded on the record of title, (such as a mortgagee) the settlement payment might go to them. You’ll need to contact that person to talk about completing the repairs to your property.