Natural Disasters - storms, floods & earthquakes

Natural disasters like earthquakes, storms and floods can cause damage and devastation, and the aftermath can be incredibly stressful and upsetting. If you have insurance, following the tips below can help you get the best outcome.

Our Information Sheets in our Document Library have quick guides to common issues. Consumer tips and case examples are included.

Our Glossary explains the meaning of technical terms used in tips and cases.

What to do after a natural disaster

It’s understandable to want to clean up after a natural disaster, but first read this webpage. This will help you get the right information to send to your insurer for your claim to be paid.

  1. Safety first

    Always consider your safety first. Listen for warnings and instructions. Take extra care on the road. Take steps to prevent damage before a storm, e.g. tie or buckle down heavy items like trampolines, and unplug sensitive equipment in case of a power cut.

  2. Contact your insurer

    Contact your insurer as soon as you can, ask about what your policy covers and what you need to do to make a claim. Ask them to confirm this in writing. Understanding what you need to do can help prevent problems later.

    Check out the Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) Fair Insurance Code that explains what insurers do at claim time and what they expect you to do when you make a claim.

  3. Document the damage

    The IFSO Scheme has seen many cases where people don’t have the evidence to prove their items were damaged during a storm, flood or earthquake. Before you clean up or throw damaged items away, record the damage. Make a list and take photos or videos, and read the EQC’s website which explains about natural disaster insurance and how to make an insurance claim.

  4. Check your policy

    Read your insurance policy to ensure you know what you are and are not covered for; the steps you need to take to make a claim; and benefits such as temporary accommodation cover. The best time to understand your insurance policy is before you need it.

  5. Ask about temporary accommodation

    Temporary accommodation cover is offered under some policies. Most benefits like this only cover you if, at the time of the damage, you were living in the house and had to move out because of the damage. If this applies to you, ask your insurer about temporary accommodation cover under your house or contents policy.

Words debated following landslip image
Lee said a heavy rain event was the underlying cause of the damage, not the landslip.
See the case summary
Defective earthquake repairs cause ongoing issues image
Faulty repairs after the Christchurch earthquakes saw Amy make two complaints to the IFSO Scheme.
See the case summary
Stress after the storm image
Independent evidence can help to progress insurance claims.
After a claim for flooding and storm damage was accepted, issues and delays continued for a stressful year.
See the case summary
Flood damage, no proof of loss image
After a flood, document the damage. Take photos or videos for evidence.
Clare’s carpet and computer were damaged when her house was flooded, but she had no evidence.
See the case summary
Earthquake damage, defective repairs image
If you are not happy with repair work, talk to your insurer about what can be done.
Kevin and Kath's complaint about the repair work on their earthquake-damaged home led to a cash settlement.
See the case summary
No temporary accommodation cover image
Temporary accommodation cover may apply. Check your policy.
Charlie’s rental house was damaged during the Christchurch earthquake. When he moved back in he wasn’t eligible for cover.
See the case summary
Cover for motel, not for carparks image
Business interruption cover applies to specific circumstances. Check your policy.
Jim’s claim for his earthquake-damaged motel was accepted, but his claim for loss of income from carparks was declined.
See the case summary
No access, no business image
Check your policy for the definition of loss. Insurance covers damaged property.
Christine’s clothing store was yellow-stickered, which affected her business. But her property wasn’t damaged.
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Earthquake: repair v replace image
Providing expert evidence is important to dispute an insurer’s decision
An insurer deemed an earthquake-damaged property repairable but the owner disagreed and wanted it replaced.
See the case summary

Natural Disasters and the Fair Insurance Code

Most general insurers are members of the Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) and subscribe to the Fair Insurance Code - a code* developed by the ICNZ, which sets out "the standard of service member companies must provide to their customers. These obligations are in addition to those imposed by the law". (*The code describes how your relationship with your insurer should work, including what you need to tell them and how they need to respond.)