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Making urgent repairs

If your home has been damaged by a natural hazard event, you may need to carry out urgent repairs to make your home safe.

Your insurer is your first and best, contact point for advice about urgent work to both your home and residential land. They manage your EQCover claim on our behalf, and they’ll be able to provide you with advice specific to your situation.

It is important to understand that some damaged areas of land may not have EQCover. We only cover the residential land as defined in the EQC Act. The cost of any work to uninsured land may not be reimbursed.

The safety of your property

If you’re concerned about the safety of your property, contact your council (or local civil defence during a state of emergency). They’ll help you understand the state of your property and will be able to advise if your property is considered dangerous or insanitary under the Building Act 2004.

If you need to carry out urgent work to make your home safe, sanitary, secure and weathertight:

  • Only do the work if it’s safe to do so.
  • Talk to your private insurer first (if you haven’t already), and check if the cost of the work may be reimbursed as part of your EQCover claim. Any reimbursement is subject to review by your insurer.
  • Engage a suitable expert or contractor to carry out the work, where necessary.
  • Keep records, including quotes and invoices, and take photos before and after carrying out the work.

Definition of urgent work

Urgent work is work needed after a natural disaster to make your home liveable and protect it from further damage by ensuring it is safe, sanitary, secure and weathertight.

Carrying out urgent work should only be done if it’s safe to do so and once you have spoken to your private insurer.

Permanent repairs should only start once you have had all damage assessments completed and you have received your EQCover settlement. Your private insurer will talk you through this process.

Examples of urgent work to your home may be:

  • turning off power if there are exposed wires
  • boarding up a broken window
  • restoring essential services, such as toilets and running water
  • replacing a damaged heat source
  • covering any holes in the roof or walls
  • making a damaged chimney safe.

Examples of urgent work to your residential land may be:

  • fencing off any unsafe areas
  • temporarily bracing a retaining wall which is at risk of collapse
  • temporarily diverting any overland water flow away from a landslide area (e.g. placing a tarpaulin along the top and sides of a landslip)
  • removing debris from a driveway to restore access to a home.

Landslides can be dangerous, so we don’t recommend undertaking urgent work without specialist advice.

Process for carrying out urgent work

Contact your private insurer first

Contact your private insurer about any urgent work you think you may need to undertake.

In some cases, your private insurer might arrange for the urgent work to be completed on your behalf and deduct this cost from your overall EQCover claim entitlement.

Take photos, if it's safe

If it’s safe and possible to do so, always take photos before moving items or working on your damaged home or land.

Our Take photos to support your claim page has some useful tips on the type of photos needed and how to make sure you get the images you need. 


Any reimbursement for urgent work needs to be reviewed by your private insurer. Your insurer will assess whether your claim is valid in accordance with the Earthquake Commission Act 1993 (EQC Act). We strongly advise you to speak to your private insurer before you complete any urgent work.

If your reimbursement request is accepted, the cost of any urgent work will be included in your overall EQCover entitlement. However, the payment may be made separately.

It is important that you do not start permanent repairs until your likely EQCover entitlement is known. Your private insurer will talk you through this process.

If you are engaging your own contractor to complete the urgent work to your home or property, you must:

  • Keep copies of any invoices and receipts and send these to your private insurer for review. If it is a valid EQCover claim, the costs will be reimbursed.
  • Keep a record of what work was needed and why.
  • Keep a record of what work was completed and when.
  • Take before and after photographs of the work. 

Cleaning up

If you’re staying in your home, you'll probably want to clean up spillages and breakages straight away.

There are some things you can do before you clean up to help your insurer estimate the damage. If it’s safe to do so, you should:

  • take photographs of the damage before you start cleaning up
  • keep all your damaged goods and parts, except for perishable items, like food that has been spoilt or that comes from a broken freezer
  • make a list of your perishables and take photos of them before disposal
  • make sure you dispose of perishable items safely.

For more information on cleaning up after a natural hazard event, you can view the Dealing with flood damaged items factsheet(external link), created by The Insurance Council of New Zealand.