EQC quake bill almost doubles

3:45 pm on 21 December 2010

The Earthquake Commission has nearly doubled its estimate of how much the Canterbury earthquake will cost it.

Based on a financial report commissioned last month, the commission says it is likely to face a final bill of between $2.75 billion and $3.5 billion.

Its previous estimate, in late September, was $1-$2 billion, but chief executive Ian Simpson says that was before all 160,000 claims - about 60,000 more than expected - had been lodged.

Mr Simpson says however that the final cost won't be known until about March, once all the claims have been assessed.

The EQC is liable only for the first $1.5 billion worth of claims; after

that, it's covered up to $4 billion by about 50 international insurance companies.

Any cost over that will come out of its own funds - but it's hopeful it won't come to that.

Mr Simpson says the earthquake will have an impact on the reinsurance premiums it pays, but it will work to minimise that.