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The Natural Disaster Fund

Statement of Investment Policies, Standards and Procedures

The purpose of the Natural Disaster Fund is to make sure that claims for damage by people with home insurance can be paid out in the event of a natural disaster. 

Under the EQC Act, we are required to administer the Natural Disaster Fund to protects its value, including through the investment of money held in the fund.

Since 1945 when EQC was established (then the Earthquake and War Damage Commission), the Fund has been built by levies paid by New Zealanders as part of their home insurance policies and investment returns from the Fund. In 2010, before the Canterbury and Kaikoura earthquakes, the Fund had over $6.1 billion in accumulated funds. The Canterbury and Kaikoura earthquakes used all of this, and EQC is working to rebuild the Fund through levies and investments.

EQC levies are charged at 20 cents per $100 of cover, with the maximum premium being $345 (including GST)  per year per dwelling.

The premiums charged by EQC aim to reflect the expected long-term costs of earthquakes, all other perils covered by the EQC Scheme and the cost of administering it. Over time it is expected that the premiums, combined with investment of money in the fund, will help rebuild the Natural Disaster Fund following the Canterbury and Kaikoura earthquakes. 

 


What the Natural Disaster Fund is used for


The EQC levies paid as part of home insurance premiums are deposited in the Natural Disaster Fund. EQC then uses the money in the Fund to do its job under the Earthquake Commission Act 1993 (the Act). This includes:

  • settling claims made to EQC;
  • purchasing reinsurance from international financial markets; 
  • meeting the costs of administering the EQC scheme; and 
  • improving understanding of natural hazard risk and how to reduce it by funding research and education.

Reinsurance


Since 1988, EQC has purchased reinsurance (effectively insurance for insurers) to provide additional financial resources to meet claims in the event of a major natural disaster.

EQC negotiates to buy reinsurance on the international market on an annual basis. In 2021, we paid around $190 million in reinsurance premiums to secure nearly $7 billion in reinsurance cover.

Like many other forms of insurance, EQC must pay an excess or “deductible” for any claim it makes to reinsurers. EQC’s current deductible on reinsurance cover is $1.75 billion, which means that EQC must meet the cost of all claims up to $1.75 billion before it is able to call on that reinsurance cover. 

The deductible is charged for each natural disaster “event”. Claims from the Kaikoura earthquake, for example, have cost EQC about $530 million, so this was paid from the Natural Disaster Fund rather than from reinsurance.

Since 1988, EQC has paid over $2 billion in reinsurance premiums and has received more than $4 billion from reinsurers to cover claim costs from the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence.


Crown Guarantee


EQC also pays $10 million to the Crown annually from the Natural Disaster Fund for the Crown Guarantee. This provides a guarantee to EQC that all of the claims made to EQC will be met by the government if the Fund is fully spent. In November 2018 EQC drew-down funds under the Crown Guarantee for the first time. To date, EQC has received around $200 million under the Crown Guarantee.

Through the operation of the Crown Guarantee Deed, EQC maintains a minimum balance of $50 million in the Fund to ensure that it has sufficient resources on hand to meet its financial obligations as they fall due.


Rebuilding the Natural Disaster Fund


At the time of the Canterbury earthquakes, the Natural Disaster Fund held $6.1 billion. The increase in EQC levy from 1 November 2017 will allow EQC to rebuild the Natural Disaster Fund to $1.75 billion by 2030, assuming there are no further large natural disasters.  


How the Fund is invested


The money in the Natural Disaster Fund is invested in accordance with relevant provisions of the Act, Ministerial Directions made under the Act and the Crown Entities Act 2004. Over its history, the Fund has invested in a mixture of New Zealand government stock and global equities. 

Consistent with the approach of other Crown Financial Institutions, EQC also complies with the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment.