EQC payouts hit $3 billion

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) has paid out more than $3 billion for damage from the Canterbury quakes, making the tremors New Zealand's most expensive natural disaster.

EQC chief executive Ian Simpson said this placed the quakes as one of the costliest disasters globally, with a similar number of insurance claims as those received after Hurricane Katrina in the United States.

"We are facing an unprecedented job in Canterbury. Nowhere else in the world has there been an insurance event made up of a number of ongoing events," he said.

The commission expects to pay out about $12 billion in total to quake-hit Canterbury homeowners over the next two to three years.

While some of this cost will be covered by global reinsurers, it is expected to drain the EQC's $6b disaster fund and could eventually cost the taxpayers a further $1b.

So far, the commission has received more than 450,000 damage claims as a result of the quakes. 

About 96,000 of these claims have been resolved, with many being held up by land damage.

About 192,000 households have received some money from the EQC, although in many cases they have been paid only for contents claims, which have been largely resolved.

Of the 413,000 building claims lodged, more than 100,000 have been resolved.

Nearly 12,000 homes has also been repaired under the Fletcher EQR-managed repairs scheme.

The Press