Damage in Christchurch, New Zealand, was widespread but mostly moderate

Insurers may have to pay out up to US$4.5bn (£2.9bn) for the magnitude 7.1 earthquake that struck Christchurch in New Zealand at the weekend.

EQECAT estimated a loss range of between $1bn to $4bn, while fellow risk modeller AIR Worldwide put insured losses at between $2bn and $4.5bn. EQECAT said the damage would be split evenly between residential and commercial properties.

AIR described the damage in New Zealand’s oldest city as widespread but generally moderate. However, it added that the city’s central business district, which has many historic masonry buildings, was heavily affected. Few had had seismic retrofits.

The New Zealand Earthquake Commission expects claims of around NZ$1bn (£470m). Tower, New Zealand’s largest listed general insurer, estimated its losses at NZ$5m before tax and after reinsurance. Insurance Australia Group said that it expected all its claims costs to be covered by its reinsurance arrangements, and that losses from any subsequent events would be capped at A$175m (£104m).