Have your say on the future of EQC

Columns
Thursday, July 16, 2015

Here in Canterbury, we are better placed than anyone to have an opinion on how the EQC scheme has worked in the wake of the series of earthquakes our region has experienced.

The Government is inviting public submissions on proposed changes to the current Earthquake Commission Act, which is the legislation that governs EQC and determines the coverage of the EQC scheme.

The aim of the proposed reforms is to ensure the EQC scheme remains focussed on insuring homes; resolve the difficulties experienced in Canterbury with the interaction of land and building cover; better integrate EQC and private insurers’ claims handling processes; and ensure the ongoing financial sustainability of the scheme.

The key proposed changes are as follows:

That EQC no longer provide contents insurance – this will be covered by private insurers.

That EQC building cover be extended to cover any siteworks necessary to repair or reinstate the building, and access to it, helping to remove uncertainties and friction around the interaction between building and land cover.

That the cap on EQC building cover be increased from $100,000 +GST to $200,000 +GST, which will help reduce the interaction between EQC and private insurers on over-cap claims by about two-thirds.

That land cover be limited to situations where rebuilding is not practicable, meaning homeowners would continue to receive insurance for the land if their home cannot be rebuilt on its original site and they are forced to buy another home elsewhere. However, EQC would no longer provide cover for land damage that has not caused damage to the house itself.

That claimants be required to lodge their EQC claim with their private insurer, reducing uncertainty for claimants. Insurers would validate the claimant’s status before forwarding the claim to EQC.

That EQC maintain its role in supporting research and education about New Zealand’s natural hazards and how to reduce their impact.

The review is forward-looking and will not have any impact on the handling or outcome of existing EQC claims.

The Government is committed to ensuring that New Zealanders can continue to access affordable, effective natural disaster insurance – something that sets us apart from most of the rest of the world.

I strongly encourage those from the Selwyn community who have an opinion on these proposals to participate in the public submission process. Submissions can be made using the submission template available at: www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/reviews-consultation/eqc until 5pm on Friday 11th September 2015.