Insurers promise speed in quake settlements

10:26 am on 27 July 2012

The Insurance Council says it can give Cantabrians a guarantee that insurers will go as fast as they can to settle earthquake related claims.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said on Thursday he is sick of insurance companies giving what he calls baseless excuses for delays.

Insurance Council chief executive Chris Ryan says insurers would like a speedy recovery as much as the minister.

Mr Ryan says residents should be optimistic, as the land data that companies need to make decisions is finally coming through.

"The recovery is going to happen, the insurers will be there," he says.

Mr Ryan says there is a very firm commitment from the industry to make sure it works with the Government to get a fast recovery.

Mr Brownlee says if insurance companies are doing so well they should produce information to prove it.

He told Morning Report insurers should publish their clearances of claims and explain why are not they held in higher regard in Christchurch.

IAG, the country's largest general insurer, says there are complex issues surrounding some claims and it has been waiting for crucial land information before decisions on some claims could be processed.

Its executive general manager in charge of the Canterbury recovery, Dean MacGregor, says he is confident that 75% of repairs will be completed within three years from now, and the remainder within five years.

Wait drags on

One Christchurch resident, Carmel Jaggar, has been told it could be up to three years before her insurer even considers her claim and says all that waiting is taking its toll.

She says many people are worse off than her and have been given timeframes of up to eight years for their claims.

"We feel that we have no control of our homes, no control of our land and no control of our future."

The Earthquake Commission says it expects to have all of its claims settled in the next nine months.

Chief executive Ian Simpson says a restructuring of how claims are prioritised has led to a recent flurry of activity and in the past week EQC has handed 2000 claims to insurers for processing.

He says 20,000 full home repairs will be completed by the end of this week.

Mr Simpson recognises there have been complaints from customers and says measures are being put in place to improve the process.

He says a free mediation service will be launched in August for customers whose complaints are unresolved and meet certain criteria.