20 Mar 2018

EQC changes: payout limit to be lifted, longer to put in claim

2:32 pm on 20 March 2018

The Earthquake Commission Act is being changed to increase the maximum payout and the length of time to make a claim.

Megan Woods at the habour reopening in Kaikoura. 14 November 2017.

EQC Minister Megan Woods said contents cover would still be provided by private insurers. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The legislation, expected to come in to effect on 1 July 2019, lifts the maximum payout from $100,000 to $150,000.

It changes the time within which a claim must be lodged from three months to two years, and removes contents cover.

The legislative changes come at the same time as an independent inquiry into EQC's handling of claims in Canterbury is planned.

EQC Minister Megan Woods said she would not be surprised if further changes were made following the outcome of the Canterbury inquiry.

"Once we've gone through and worked out what worked well and what didn't work well in Canterbury, I'd be very surprised if we didn't make more changes to EQC. But I don't want to predetermine the outcome of any inquiry.

"But I asked officials what we needed to do to make sure the lives of claimants would be made better if the worst were to happen."

Ms Woods said contents cover would still be provided by private insurers.

The Insurance Council said changes to the Act did not go far enough.

While it was welcoming the changes, it said the bill should go further and allow its assessors to settle claims on EQC's behalf.

It noted this had been happening following the Kaikōura quake and that claims had been settled here much faster than in Canterbury where EQC had to hurriedly employ hundreds of assessors following the earthquakes there.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs