Aftershock confirmed new event by EQC

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) has confirmed yesterday's 6.3 Christchurch aftershock as a new event for insurance purposes.

EQC chief executive Ian Simpson said the latest aftershocks had "hardened resolve" to get the job done.

People who had new, or worsened, damage as a result of yesterday's aftershocks would need to lodge a new claim with EQC within three months. The deadline for claims for the latest aftershock was September 13, 2011.

There were now 12 separate earthquake events classified for insurance purposes, since the first Canterbury quake on September 4 last year.

Earlier today, the EQC said ''complex questions'' of insurance cover after the Canterbury earthquakes had led to a joint High Court action by it and the Insurance Council.

Simpson and Insurance Council chief executive Chris Ryan said both groups had been ''working hard together for several weeks'' to try to establish liabilities.

They would lodge papers with the Wellington High Court seeking a declaratory judgement on how to apply the law ''in the unusual circumstances generated by two major earthquakes in almost the same location over a matter of months.''

Yesterday, Tower Insurance said it was taking the EQC to the High Court over how much it will pay out on claims resulting from the Christchurch quakes.

Both the Insurance Council and EQC agreed people who had suffered loss should be paid, Simpson said.

''It's really about how much cover EQC is allowed to provide in these unusual circumstances,'' he said.

Under the Act, EQC provides cover for damage to residential properties and contents from earthquakes up to a maximum of $100,000 for properties and $20,000 for contents, along with defined coverage for damage to residential land.

Insurance Council member companies provide coverage for amounts above the EQC's limits.

The issue to be decided by the High Court is in what circumstances the EQC insurance would be reinstated to its full limits after natural disaster damage.

In a small number of situations it was uncertain whether EQC insurance will provide a further $100,000 of cover for the second event.

Ryan said the best way forward was for a court ruling.

EQC and the council would be asking the High Court to deliver its decision as soon as it could.

"It's important to have certainty about how EQC insurance applies in these circumstances," Simpson said.

''This certainty will help EQC and the insurers continue to process insurance claims as quickly as they can.''

"We will welcome the clarity that the Court decision will bring," Simpson said.

Stuff