In the week following the magnitude 7.1 earthquake in Canterbury, more than 45,000 claims for residential property damage have been lodged with the Earthquake Commission.
The commission says this number of claims is unprecedented in the state agency's history.
Its insurance manager, Lance Dixon, says staff are first trying to get to the more than 5000 people who have said their houses are uninhabitable or not weatherproof.
"Then we'll be working to look at the rest of the structural issues that have been notified, and in parallel with that we've got a fast track system going for the non-structural damage."
Mr Dixon says 60 staff are inspecting damaged properties and reinforcements are being brought in from around the country and from overseas to boost the team to more than 400 in coming weeks.
Go ahead with emergency repairs, EQC tells home-owners
The commission says Canterbury residents who need to make emergency repairs to their quake-damaged homes don't have to wait for an assessor to inspect the property.
Lance Dixon says that while the commission will only accept claims on the basis of its own assessment, homeowners who need urgent repairs to secure their properties or fix damaged services should go ahead and arrange them.
Nervous homeowners call in engineers
Homeowners who cannot wait for the Earthquake Commission to assess their properties are calling in private structural engineers.
Opus Engineering regional manager Glen Hughes says as well as serving its regular industrial, commercial and institutional clients, the company is getting many calls from homeowners who want reassurance that their homes are habitable.
Mr Hughes says the company is calling in structural engineers from around the country and from Britain and Australia to help with the workload.