Kaikoura Earthquake Q&A

Kaikoura Earthquake Q&A

What is a digital assessment for dwellings?

In some cases we can speed up the cash settlement of minor building damage by carrying out a digital assessment rather than having an assessor visit your property.

To date we have received over 400 serious and moderate dwelling claims and over 1100 minor dwelling claims.

All claims are important to us but we are prioritising serious and moderate claims first. As a result it may be several months before an assessor is available to visit properties with minor damage.

You have the option of speeding up the process by completing a earthquake assessment form of your damage and sending it through to us for consideration.

The main difference between waiting for an assessor to visit is time. It's a lot quicker for you to complete this assessment yourself and send it to us so we can process your claim digitally. The second difference is that you will need to hire a contractor (such as a certified builder) to assess and cost the damage. Please note that this cost will only be reimbursed to you once your claim is validated as being earthquake related.

  What we need from your contractor:

  • Confirmation that the damage is earthquake related (supported with photos).
  • Costs for the repair.

  What we need from you:

  • The Earthquake Assessment Form filled out and returned (with the help of your contractor) with sufficient information to help us make an assessment.
  • Photos that accurately show the damage in its entirety (again the contractor may be able to help with hard to reach places).
  • Contractor costs (copy of invoice).

If you are unable to engage a contractor due to your rural location or a contractor being unavailable, we’d like to hear from you to discuss how else we may be able to help progress your claim.

Return the form to us using one of these methods:


  1. Create an email and in the subject line write your client number and your full name.
  2. Complete the Earthquake Assessment Form digitally. It is available on our website (link here) and fully editable.
  3. Email the completed form to us at earthquake@fmg.co.nz along with any jpeg photos and any other attachments (such as builders’ quotes) as PDF files.


  1. Print out the form, fill it in, and post it back to us:

           PO Box 1943

           Palmerston North Central

           Palmerston North 444

You have lodge a claim for contents or building damage - what happens next?

1. We will contact you to confirm the details of your claim and discuss the next steps with you.

2. Next steps may include sending us documentation, photos, and quotes.

3. We will look at your claim and decide whether an assessor needs to visit you. This will depend on the extent of the damage. 

4. If an assessor needs to visit you, they'll contact you and make a time to visit your home and carry out a full assessment. (You'll need to be at home for this.) The full assessment will involve a detailed appraisal of the damage to your property. Click here for more information on what our assessors do.

5. Digital assessment for minor dwelling damage is an option. Read more about this here.

6. Settlement - once we all the information we need we will work out your settlement which may be a cash settlement, repair, replacement or rebuild. 

What is the home assessment process?

After you've lodged your building claim, an FMG assessor will make an appointment to visit your property.

The home assessment process

After you've lodged your building claim, an FMG assessor will phone you to make a time to visit your property and carry out a full assessment.

This is a detailed appraisal of the damage to your home. It will be carried out by an assessor and they may be accompanied by an estimator (licensed building practitioner).

You need to be available at the property for the full assessment.We will provide at least 24 hours' notice (unless a different arrangement has been previously negotiated).Appointments can be re-arranged.

The FMG representatives will inspect:

  • Every room in your house
  • The ceiling cavity
  • The under-floor areas
  • If possible outbuildings and retaining walls if covered as part of the dwelling.

The FMG representatives won't be able to enter any areas that they believe are unsafe.

Settling your claim

The information from the full assessment is given to our claims team. We'll analyse this, along with information relating to any other claims you've made. We'll use tihs information to calculate your settlement.

1. Find out about the repair process for homes with different amounts of damage.

Small claim cash settlements

If your home did not sustain structural damage and the cost of repair has been estimated as being under $100,000 plus GST you will (or already have) receive a cheque from EQC.

Managed repairs

For people whose overall home repair or replacement will cost more than $15,000 (+ GST) and less than the EQC cap, which is usually $100,000 (+ GST) per event

Your claim(s) will be referred to the Canterbury Home Repair Programme (CHRP).You can nominate a contractor however they will need to be accredited for ongoing work with the programme and be available to do the work when it is planned.

Over-cap claims

For people whose home repair or replacement will cost over the EQC cap – for most people this is $100,000 (+ GST)

If damage from any single event exceeds the EQC cap (usually $100,000 + GST), the management of repairs or replacement will be handed over to Inovo, a spceilaist project management company, who will work with you on our behalf.

If you have a mortgage (or other financial security) on the property, we'll usually pay the settlement amount to the mortgagee.If your property is freehold, we'll pay the settlement amount to you.

Cash settling building damage

If you have received a settlement payment to make repairs to your home, it’s important you use this money to complete those repairs. If you chose not to, it may affect your future entitlement to EQC and insurance cover.

What to do when you receive your insurance claim money

If you are managing your own repairs you are responsible for such things as hiring contractors and complying with all relevant legislation such as the Building Act 2004.

For more information about managing your repairs read the booklet Rebuild with Confidence, available on the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment website.

Cash settling contents claim

Once you have received a cash settlement for your contents claim, you can spend the money on whatever you want. You don't have to replace the item if you don't want to. 

What our assessors do

Our assessors will visit your property and work through what we need to do to get your property repaired. The time assessors spend with you will vary depending on how many dwellings and other factors are involved.

Some claims may be extremely complex and take more time for our assessors to work through.

For example, a rural property may consist of a homestead, shearing quarters, other dwellings and outbuildings, commercial buildings, garages, sheds, and swimming pool.

Our assessor will work with you to prioritise which building needs to be assessed and settled first. They will walk through the property with you so you can show earthquake damage you have observed.

 Our assessor will:

  • Take photos of the damage
  • Take note of earthquake damage so that it can be calculated for settlement or repair
  • Determine whether additional expertise is needed - such as engineers, contractors, geotechnical engineers - this would be dependent on the type of property you have and the nature of the damage. 

Once they have returned to the office they will process your claim and will recommend either settlement, rebuild or repair work, depending on your claim and type of policy.

How to take good photos

It's really important to take clear photos of your damage, particularly if we are assessing your claim digitally. The photos will provide us with enough information on which to assess your claim, so the clearer they are, the better.


  • It’s a good idea to take a photo of your house number or mailbox to confirm the location of the damage
  • Photograph the front, sides and back of the building – fit the whole building into the photo if you can. This provides context for us in understanding the scale and extent of the damage

 Specific damage

  • When taking photos of the interior rooms, it’s useful to photograph the room using a number of different views and angles
  • In smaller rooms, take photos of the bottom half of the room, followed by the top half to make sure you capture everything
  • Photograph any areas and items that were damaged. Make sure you take some wide shots as well as zooming in on specific details
  • It’s often useful to include a tape measure in the shot to show the size of the item or damaged area

All EQC contents claims are cash settled

The Schedule of Loss form

You should have received a copy of the Schedule of Loss form in the mail or by email. If not, you can access it online, or phone us on 0800 366 466 and we will send one to you.

If you have difficulty completing the form, phone us on  0800 366 466 and we'll talk you through it.

Important: Please include your claim number in any correspondence you send to us.

Processing your claim

Send in your contents claim – including all the supporting documentation – as soon as you can.

We generally process claims in the order they're received. However, we give priority to people who are vulnerable because of illness, age or other special factors. If this applies to you or someone you know, call us on 0800 366 466.

Keep some items

We may need to inspect damaged items that are worth more than $500 when we process your claim. For this reason, you should keep those items until your claim has been settled. If you can't keep them please take photos and send a copy to us.

Getting paid

If you'd like to be paid electronically, please make sure you've provided us with a bank deposit slip or a letter from your bank identifying your bank account number. (We can accept these electronically if they're scanned and emailed.)