Woods unveils a raft of reforms to settle outstanding EQC claims

EQC Minister Megan Woods has accepted all of the recommendations.

Earthquake Commission (EQC) Minister Megan Woods has accepted the need for a wide range of reforms to speed up the resolution of outstanding EQC claims, as outlined in a new report.

The report was prepared by NZ Customs acting chief executive Christine Stevenson, who was appointed the independent ministerial adviser to identify ways to improve the settling of claims.

The document reveals sizeable issues with staffing levels, data quality, record keeping and organisational culture and structure that are holding back resolution of claims.

Ms Stevenson says the challenges to settling unresolved claims generally arise from on-sold properties, defective repairs, time frames, the scope of insurance cover arising under the EQC Act and differing policies of private insurers.

Ms Woods says the findings of the report confirm there’s a “big job to do” to get claims moving faster. The document contains recommendations to improve the way EQC operates, get claims sorted and to help people move on with their lives, she says.

Ms Stevenson admits the 2010 Canterbury earthquakes placed “extraordinary demands” on the EQC.

“A number of tough decisions had to be made quickly and were made with good intentions and in good faith and for good public policy reasons.”

Recommendations
The recommendations fall into several broad categories: those EQC will have the responsibility for implementing, those the Treasury and Ministry of Business need to work with EQC on, and those that are more progressive and need a whole-of-system approach.

Changes include:

• hiring more staff to reduce the caseloads for case managers so claimants can get more personal attention;

• establishing a claimant reference group, comprised of claimants and community representative advocates who are paid for their time and expertise to advise EQC on how to improve the treatment of their customers;

• making any claimants’ EQC file available to them on request and introducing a standard for better communication with claimants;

• having a team of experienced EQC staff pull out all of the physical claims files relating to the remaining claims, and have the team sort, review, confirm and capture the key data to ensure it is correct; and

• increasing government monitoring to improve accountability.

There are also broader recommendations including allowing EQC more flexibility to make cash settlements above the EQC cap, which would then be recovered from the private insurers.

National’s EQC spokesman Stuart Smith says the report is a “positive step” but he wants to see clarity around who foots the bill for damage to on-sold homes and a timeline on the changes.

“If the insurance company is going to be paying out on those over-cap claims, what mechanism is EQC going to use to recover that from the insurance companies?

“I suspect that is not going to be as easy as it sounds,” Mr Smith says.

He also thinks it will be difficult to draw the line between old and new damage given the length of time it has taken to settle claims.

Ms Woods says another recommendation the government is beginning to work on is to significantly scale up the Residential Advisory Service, which provides independent help to claimants. The service has helped resolve more than 4000 outstanding claims.

“The report recommends funding RAS to help claimants access independent psycho-social support.

“This is about recognising the enormous emotional toll that these claims processes can take and making sure people have access to support,” she says.

Ms Woods says she accepts all the recommendations and has asked Dame Annette King, the interim board chairwoman, to begin implementing changes immediately.

She has also asked for a group of chief executives from various government agencies to come together to implement the recommendations.

As result of the earthquakes, over 770,000 individual residential building, land, and contents claims were opened. Nearly all these claims have now been settled and a comparatively small number of claims remain open.

“Most of the claims still sitting with the EQC are re-opened claims, many are complex in nature, and the process to resolution is not straightforward,” the report says.


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Yet another Gerry Brownlee Christchurch cock up getting fixed

Just need to sort out the convention centre that the government is the developer on after Gerry sent the successful tenderer packing. Maybe Gerry should do the right thing and retire - he might be better suited to being a chippie on the building site but even that he would become an OSH problem!!

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Fully agree, I fear we have yet to uncover the full scale (and cost) of Mr Bownlee's incompetence.

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You are so mean spirited and so quick to condem anyone slightly to the right of your perverse political views.

So there are thousands of unsettled claims. So what? That, given the scale of the disaster, was only to be expected. To the best of my recollection there are around 4,500 unresolved claims. That is around 0.5% of the total claims made. Now, I don’t want to belittle the outstanding claims, nor cause offence to the people trying to settle. God forbid that I should cause offence as I have friends in that situation.

But it was a disaster, Mr Scribe. And unless you actually lived through it you will not truly appreciate the scale and the effects. I did and I do.

Someone had to take control and force through some quick fixes. Otherwise, there would be tens of thousands of outstanding claims. Gerry wasn’t perfect, but he did his best and he did a bloody good job. He does NOT deserve your continuing caustic opprobrium.

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Mr Coates, you might like to consider how quickly the commercial land owners got sorted out with a national government buyout; at way over inflated prices, on a dream scheme that was never going to work. We are talking hundreds of millions of dollars here, to investors who should be aware of the risks of owning commercial property.

Meanwhile Mr Coates, there are still unresolved claims on property people live in. Sorry, but the past National Government got their priorities wrong on so many levels, it boarders on scandal.

As far as I and alot of others can see, the only winners under national were the overseas banksters. Jonkey was nothing more than a plant, and now we are paying the long term consequences, including increased inequity, increased indebtedness to overseas interest and increased costs to clean up unsustainable dairy farmers.

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Given that most, if not all, outstanding claims, are those that believe the Government hasn't offered enough. If Woods "soft settles" them will she then allow those that settled straight up come in for a second helping? If not, why not? Surely they have a case?

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if you were up with the play you would know that there is already a second play happening with EQC having to redo a lot of poor quality repairs that happened under Gerry's watch - where EQC bullied people to settle and blatantly lied to them that their houses were safe

So unlikely too many others needing help - the new Minister has done a great job for the people of CHCH in a very quick time
No word from Gerry that defends his work or questions Megan Woods great work - I wonder why

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Those in the driving seat of the EQC cock up were one Barry Searle, Reid Stiven, Ian Simpson and Gail Kettle.

It is these folk whom the real questions should be directed at. Who knows what they said to Gerry? Labour had 6 years to find out and were too lazy to ask. Now they are just carrying on their merry way with the taxpayer footing the bill.

(Edited)

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Why we need a NZ Banking & Insurance Royal Commission - what would honest companies be afraid of

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Next job for Megan Woods

Sort out Regenerate CHCH and Development Christchurch

Especially Development Christchurch which has achieved nothing in 3 years and has a reputation for not making decisions - all talk and no do!! The senior executives have no track record and are very weak

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Insurance companies in NZ need regulation to stop their excuses for not paying out on claims ! High premiums charged are ridiculous !

Insurance Claims assessors use words like " Gradual Leakage or Gradual damage or Gradual Age deterioration to get out of most claims !

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After watching how the earthquake effected people of Christchurch were treated, God help the rest of us if another big one hits. Still the uninsured will be ok judging by the way the govt looked after them after the quake. It's the poor old insured that got dumped on.

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