• EQC inquiry hears of "deep mistrust"

Many New Zealanders who have made claims after a catastrophe feel a “deep mistrust” of the Earthquake Commission (EQC), private insurers and the building industry.

A public inquiry into the EQC has been told that their experiences with the EQC in particular “has shaken their trust and confidence in the New Zealand Government”.

The inquiry has received 972 written submissions and heard from people who attended 18 public forums held across the country.

A “snapshot” of feedback released by the inquiry today says many participants say the EQC should no longer be responsible for managing claims under the Earthquake Commission Act.

“Many would like private insurers to take on this role, but others thought this would be no better,” the feedback document says.

“The inquiry also heard calls for better co-ordination between the EQC, insurers and recovery organisations, and greater oversight of the EQC and the insurance industry.”

A full summary of responses will be published in December and a final report with recommendations for the Government about the EQC’s role and function will be presented by the end of March.

Inquiry Chairman Dame Silvia Cartwright says the extensive program of meetings and interviews has provided important insights into the EQC’s operations and how it can be better prepared for future disasters.

“My focus is now on taking all that I have heard and read, including a large amount of research and study of documents relating to the EQC, and turning it into a final report that will help make a positive difference for New Zealanders,” she said in a message posted on the inquiry website today.

The EQC inquiry is mainly focused on lessons from the Canterbury earthquakes, but has also welcomed input on experiences following subsequent events.

The inquiry heard from a number of people whose EQC claims were managed by their private insurer following the Kaikoura earthquakes, with mixed experiences reported.

“Some were very happy and compared it favourably to their Canterbury experience,” the feedback snapshot says. “Others reported poor communication and the feeling insurers were drawing out the process to ‘wear them down’.

“Private insurers were positive about the insurer-led approach.”

Many people commented on the EQC’s preparedness to manage claims following a large event, with people critical of its failure to recruit suitably qualified staff, information management systems, claims management policies and procedures and communications.



 - insuranceNEWS

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