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Claims process

When you make a claim, there are a number of steps that you and your insurer need to work through to resolve it. The process typically includes making a claim with your insurer, assessment of the damage, finding out the outcome of your claim, and where the claim is accepted, you’ll usually receive a cash settlement. This can take some time, and your insurer is usually the best point of contact for updates on progress of your claim.

The safety of you and your whānau is the priority after any natural hazard event. Look after yourself and help others if you can.

You should talk to your insurer before you start making any urgent repairs to make your home safe, sanitary, secure, and weathertight.

1. You make a claim

Contact your insurer to make a claim if your home is damaged by a natural disaster. Most insurers work on our behalf to assess and manage your claim from start to finish. They will be your single point of contact during the claims process and can answer any questions you have. You can usually make a claim online or over the phone.

Insurers and their contact details.

If you have an insurance broker, they may be able to manage most communication with your insurer on your behalf, and make a claim for you if you authorise them to do so. Contact your broker to confirm how they can assist you with your claim.   

Natural Hazards Commission Toka Tū Ake manage a small number of claims directly. Please contact us if:

If you are unsure who you should contact, please call us on 0800 DAMAGE and we can help.

It’s important to make your claim as soon as practical after a natural hazard event.

We encourage you to make your claim within three months following a natural disaster.

You have a maximum of two years to lodge a claim for damage after a natural hazard event. However, any delay beyond three months may affect the ability to assess your claim, and could result in your claim being declined.

Before you start cleaning up after a natural hazard event, it’s important to take photos of any damage. Take photos before you repair, move, or get rid of anything. These photos will support your claim and help your insurer understand the amount of damage to your property. Without proof of damage, it may be more difficult for your insurer to resolve your claim.

Read more about how to take photos to support your claim.

During the claims process it's your responsibility to:

  • communicate everything you know about the natural disaster damage and how it happened
  • provide copies of any documents that are requested to support your claim.

2. Your insurer assesses the damage

After you’ve lodged the claim, your insurer will assign you a claim manager, who will be your main point of contact during the claims process. Your claim manager will be in touch with you to explain what happens next and organise any insurance related assessments of damage to your property.

Expect visits from multiple specialists

During the insurance assessment process, you might receive visits from multiple specialists depending on the type of damage that has happened to your property. Sometimes more than one assessor will visit your property at different times due to the nature or timing of reported damage, for example if you have shared land or report additional damage.

Assessment for a building claim might include visits from a:

  • Loss adjuster or assessor who will produce a full record of damage to your home and any other separate insured buildings.
  • Structural engineer who will produce a more specialised report, if the damage to your home is severe.

Assessment for a land claim might include visits from a:

  • Loss adjustor or assessor who will produce a full record of the damage to the insured part of your land, including any insured bridges, culverts and retaining walls.
  • Geotechnical engineer who will produce a report that describes the cause of the land damage, and how to repair it.
  • Registered valuer who will determine the value of your insured, damaged land.

You should make sure you ask to see identification anytime an insurance representative visits your property and ask the insurance representative to explain the purpose of the visit and what happens next. You might also receive visits from specialists for reasons other than insurance, such as council assessors.

A scope of works is produced

Once these assessments are complete, the assessor or loss adjuster will create a scope of works based on the outcome of the reports. The scope of works outlines all the natural hazard damage that needs to be repaired and the estimated costs of those repairs.

For damage to your land, the scope of works will outline a proposed approach to repairing the land, known as the remediation strategy. This conceptual approach to the repairs helps us estimate the costs of the repairs and it is compared to the value of your insured damaged land to work out how much you might receive in your settlement.  

You are not obliged to proceed with the proposed approach. We encourage you to seek your own advice on options for a suitable repair, and engage your own contractor to design the repairs. They may have alternative methods and suggest repairs that are different to what is suggested in the remediation strategy. 


Assessing damage to land can be complex and take time to complete. It’s difficult to say how long this process might take, but homeowners can generally expect complex land claims to take some months. The timeline might also be impacted if a property is deemed unsafe and access is restricted, or if the land is still moving. In situations where lots of people in the community have been affected there can be a high demand on specialists.

We encourage you to stay in touch with your insurer to understand your claim’s progress.


Council placards are also called red or yellow stickers, or section 124 prohibited access notices. They are issued by your local council or Civil Defence if a building is insanitary, dangerous, or a risk to people's safety, under section 124 of the Building Act. Officials may also issue a notice if they assess that a risk that has not yet happened is likely to happen, such as potential rockfalls or unstable land. This is known as imminent risk.

A notice that restricts access to a building can mean that it is unsafe to carry out insurance assessments and may delay your claim. Assessors will be unable to enter your property until the council has decided it is safe.

Your council will be able to give you more information about what the notice means for your property, and the steps you can take to have it removed.

Any specialist reports required by your council to remove the notice are focused on safety. These are different from the specialist reports needed to process your insurance claim, which focus on assessing damage. You can expect multiple specialists will visit your property for these separate purposes.

Imminent risk  

Imminent risk is a risk that has not yet happened, but is likely to happen, such as potential rockfalls or unstable land. Imminent risk is a term used by the council or Civil Defence to indicate a safety risk. It is not related to insurance and has no relevance to whether imminent damage is identified.

Imminent damage is a term used in insurance to describe damage that hasn’t happened yet, but is more likely than not to happen in the 12 months following a natural hazard event. You may receive payment for imminent damage as a part of your settlement.

When natural disaster damage impacts a number of insured properties (such as landslide damage affecting a number of neighbours), or the land is shared (such as a cross-lease or a shared driveway), insurers will work together to manage your land claim and your neighbours’ land claims. This streamlines the assessment process and helps to deliver the best outcome for all the homeowners involved.

Insurers will work independently to assess the building portion of the claims and will nominate one insurer to be the land assessment lead for the land claims.

The land assessment lead insurer is responsible for engaging a geotechnical engineer, completing any additional site assessments, and finalising the geotechnical reports. The insurers will then work together to review any reports and agree on the remediation strategy for the shared land. 

The remediation strategy is the proposed approach to repairing the land, and the estimated cost of doing that work. This is then compared to the value of your insured damaged land to work out how much you are entitled to. Your insurer will discuss the suggested remediation strategy with you.

Once the land claim portion has been finalised, your insurer will be able to confirm your total building and land claim settlement.

3. You are notified of the outcome of your claim

Once the assessment is complete, your claim manager will be in touch to discuss the outcome of your claim.

If your insurer accepts the claim, your claim manager will be in touch to talk about how your settlement will be paid and answer any questions you might have. They will also provide you with settlement advice documents before the claim payment is made.

Your settlement advice documents include:

  • the total settlement amount
  • any amounts deducted from your settlement, such as the excess
  • the scope of works detailing the natural hazard damage to your property
  • the estimated cost to repair that damage
  • other supporting expert information, for example engineering reports and valuation reports
  • how any payments for damage to shared or neighbouring properties will be split. 

We encourage you to keep a copy of these documents for your records.

If your insurer doesn’t accept the claim, your claim manager will be in touch to discuss the reasons why. You can expect to be given a clear explanation as to why it has not been accepted, and copies of any specialists’ reports for your records. If you have questions about why your claim has not been accepted, please contact your claim manager.

If you disagree with the outcome of your claim, including your settlement amount, we encourage you to first discuss this with your insurer. You can also make a complaint with us, take the dispute to court, or raise a complaint with the Ombudsman.  

For disputes about NHCover claims, you also have the option to refer your dispute to the NHCover Dispute Resolution Service. This service is available for disputes about NHCover claims for damage that first occurred on or after 1 July 2024.  

4. Cash settlement

When a claim has been accepted, you will usually be paid money to replace or repair the damage to your property, up to the building and land caps. This is called cash settlement.

By accepting a cash settlement, you agree that:

  • the information that you provided is true and accurate
  • you have not held back any information.

Contact your claim manager if you realise that any of the claim information you provided is no longer accurate, or you have new information.

Cash settlement gives you the flexibility to choose your own contractors and decide when to start the work. When picking a contractor, you need to make sure they have the right skills and experience. All repairs must be done to a good standard and within the law. This includes getting new building consents if needed.

You can also think about having other building work done at the same time, such as renovating or adding insulation. You would be responsible for paying for this, on top of repairing the natural disaster damage.

Your settlement may include a payment for imminent damage. Imminent damage is damage that hasn’t happened yet, but is more likely than not to happen in the 12 months following that natural hazard event.

Settlement funds must be used to repair or rebuild your property 

It is important that the payment is used for the purpose of repair or rebuilding your damaged property. If your payment isn't used for this purpose, in some situations we might limit or cancel your access to natural hazards cover. If you are unsure about this, please speak to your claim manager.

There is a maximum that we can pay towards repairing or replacing your property for each natural disaster that happens.

For damage to buildings the maximum amount we can pay is called the building cover cap. This is generally up to $300,000 plus GST. Cover for any amount above this cap will be provided through your private insurance policy. 

Your total payment amount (your settlement) will be based on the replacement value of your home. Replacement value is the cost to repair or replace your home to a standard that is similar to when it was new. Refer to the Natural Hazards Insurance Act (NHI Act) for a full definition of replacement value. However, the maximum settlement amount that you can be paid is set out in your private insurance policy.

For damage to land the maximum amount that we can pay is called the land cover cap. This is usually based on the market value of your insured damaged land, plus the value of insured retaining walls, bridges and culverts, to a limit. The value of retaining walls, bridges and culverts is assessed differently depending on whether your claim is subject to the NHI Act or the EQC Act.  

The land cap is calculated by adding the:

  • market value of the parts of your insured land that have been damaged or lost, plus
  • value (which is assessed differently under the NHI Act and the EQC Act) of any insured retaining walls, bridges, and culverts, to a limit.

Read more about Cover for your home and land on the About natural hazards cover page.

When another person or organisation is recorded on the record of title, (such as a mortgagee) the settlement payment might go to them. You’ll need to contact that person to talk about completing the repairs to your property.