Tens of thousands file claims over floods, slips

3:39 pm on 3 March 2023
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The Earthquake Commission said it has close to 4000 claims for land damage. Photo: RNZ/ Nick Monro

Insurance claims related to the Auckland Anniversary weekend floods and Cyclone Gabrielle have topped 70,000.

Of those, the Earthquake Commission (EQC) said it has close to 4000 claims for land damage, but is warning these will take quite some time to process.

The claims are passed onto EQC by insurers and relate to land slips, flooding and storm damage on residential properties.

Chief readiness and recovery officer Kate Tod said processing the claims would be a lengthy process.

"The EQC cover claims are a small portion, but the issue is they can take time to settle because there's various steps you need to go through for a land claim.

"We need a geotech engineer to go out, we need a valuer to go out and at the moment the first thing that needs to happen is that silt and debris needs to be removed before that can be assessed."

Tod said people need to contact their private insurers, which are lodging claims with EQC on homeowners' behalf.

"It's a really difficult one to put a timeframe on. We will have better clarity of that as things unfold over the next few weeks."

Meanwhile, homeowners who were forced to vacate their houses due to the danger of nearby slips when their properties were otherwise livable, could be eligible for cover through EQC.

Private insurers' policies on the matter vary, but EQC is tasked with covering damage to land on residential properties.

Under the Earthquake Commission Act 1993, land under a dwelling is covered in an eight metre radius, along with outbuildings such as a garage also within eight metre radius. It also provides cover for up to 60 metres of land on a main accessway to a property.

Tod said EQC cover may apply to situations where there is imminent risk from neighbouring properties.

"If there is a risk of damage occurring on your property or on your land because of perhaps a neighbouring property there is potentially cover under the [Earthquake Commission Act], but we would need to look at the specifics of that."

Homeowners automatically have EQCover if they have a current private insurance policy for their home, and pay the fire insurance levy.

If landslip damage occurs, EQCover will repair a home up to the residential building cap and pay for the insured residential land up to the value of the land.

For storms and floods, we can help repair some of the land, and the private insurance policy would generally cover the home, car or contents, according to your policy + EQCover will cover the cost of removing flood debris such as silt and fallen trees and repairing land evacuation/scour damage.

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