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Streets are cordoned off near a nine-story building in Wellington where engineers discovered a major vertical beam had failed above the fifth floor, following Monday's earthquake in New Zealand. The building was being renovated and was empty when the quake struck. Nearby buildings evacuated included the national headquarters for the Red Cross, the Thai Embassy, the headquarters for New Zealand Rugby and an Anglican cathedral. (Mark Mitchell/New Zealand Herald via AP)

The earthquake that struck New Zealand this week could cost the insurance industry as much as NZ$5.3 billion ($3.7 billion), according to catastrophe modeler AIR Worldwide.

The insured losses will be at least NZ$1.15 billion, the unit of Verisk Analytics Inc. said in a statement on its website. Most damage to residences will be covered by the Earthquake Commission, a government-owned carrier backed by reinsurers, according to AIR.

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