Reinsurer Swiss Re has said the New Zealand earthquake would cost insurers up to $12 billion, with its own bill reaching $800 million.
"The total insured claims for the insurance sector for the earthquake in New Zealand are estimated to be between $6 billion to $12 billion," it said.
Swiss Re added that the deadly catastrophe which struck Christchurch was expected to cost the Zurich-based group some $800 million before tax.
Costs to the industry were particularly high as take-up rates for earthquake insurance were significant in New Zealand, the reinsurer noted.
It added that there remained uncertainties in its estimates and that the preliminary forecasts could yet be revised.
Bank Vontobel pointed out that Swiss Re's estimate suggests that the earthquake will account for up to 80 percent of the reinsurer's annual natural catastrophe budget of $1.0 billion.
If claims of around $225 million from recent floods in Australia were included, the total would account for the whole amount, barely two months into 2011, the bank said.
Grieving New Zealanders fell silent on Tuesday to mark the moment last week when the 6.3 magnitude earthquake tore apart the country's second largest city and claimed hundreds of lives.
The reconstruction bill for the city has been estimated at up to NZ$16 billion ($12 billion).