25 May 2019

Final calls for feedback on experiences with the Earthquake Commission

6:12 am on 25 May 2019

Almost 400 written submissions have been received on people's experiences with the Earthquake Commission to date.

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Photo: RNZ/ Nick Monro

These formal submissions include recommendations on the necessary changes, alongside more than 200 comments received via social media.

The submission deadline is tomorrow, the inquiry is expecting more submissions to come in today.

Dame Silvia Cartwright was announced as the chair of the EQC inquiry in November. She is urging people who have had experience with EQC and have views on change to have their say by sharing them with the inquiry.

"These can be confidential if they wish," she said. "It is important we hear from people with a range of experiences - good, bad or otherwise."

The independent inquiry is tasked with making findings and recommendations as it relates to the operations, policies and service of EQC, following the Canterbury earthquakes and other natural disasters around New Zealand in recent years.

Dame Sylvia Cartwright.

Dame Silvia Cartwright. Photo: AFP

"I appreciate it's often not easy to revisit difficult past experiences, but I hope people will do it for themselves and for others who will face the effects of natural disasters in the future."

The inquiry can find fault as it relates to EQC's processes, but will not apportion blame or revisit individual insurance claims or legal judgments.

Dame Silvia had been "encouraged" by the quality of submissions received to date.

"People have been prepared to detail their experiences - which clearly hasn't been easy for some - and still focus in on specific changes they feel are needed in how EQC responds and handles insurance claims after disasters," she said.

Suggested changes were around issues such as the damage assessment process, managed repair process and claims management, she said.

"It's obvious in the stories from people that many are still living with the lasting impacts on them and their families," she said. "Some people have seen positive gains over time depending on who manages the claim, but that is still a contentious area."

She was looking forward to receiving more written submissions ahead of tomorrow's deadline, but said the public forums would carry on past that time for people to have their say in person.

Dame Silvia said she expected to report her findings and recommendations to the governor-general by the end of 2019.

They could then be considered by the government.

For more information or to make a submission today, head to eqcinquiry.govt.nz.

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