12 Feb 2024

Earthquake Commission pushes to make dispute resolution process easier

9:34 pm on 12 February 2024
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Photo: RNZ/ Nick Monro

Thirteen years on from the Canterbury earthquakes, the Earthquake Commission (EQC) says its new independent dispute resolution scheme will make the process simpler and easier to navigate for homeowners.

The commission's new process for people who want to dispute the outcome of a natural hazard insurance claim comes into effect in July, under the new Natural Hazards Insurance Act 2023 (NHI Act), and as part of the launch Toka Tū Ake EQC is asking for public feedback.

It is one of the recommendations from the public inquiry into EQC in 2020, which found the organisation was poorly prepared for the earthquakes.

EQC NHI Act implementation director Michala Beacham said while there were existing external mechanisms for resolving disputes, the new scheme would provide a simpler, easy to navigate pathway for homeowners.

"We are really focused on learning from our experience and how people have found us to work with, and getting feedback through this process will really improve how we make sure we do our best when we're dealing with people, in what often is a really tough time for them in their life," she said.

"We are really keen to hear from anyone, including anyone who has gone through a dispute with us previously... people can provide feedback online, through email, in the post or over the phone."

EQC said Fair Way Resolution was its preferred provider to deliver the external dispute resolution scheme.

Public consultation is open until 6 March.


But Ali Jones, who has been working alongside Canterbury insurance claimants for a decade, did not believe the new service would better support claimants.

She said she did not understand why EQC "appeared to want to reinvent the wheel" with an external claims resolution scheme.

Jones said the New Zealand Claims Resolution Service (NZCRS) had been operating in one form or another since 2013 and only recently renamed itself from the Greater Christchurch Claims Resolution Service.

"There are experienced and knowledgeable people at the NZCRS, who know the processes, how to assist people with their journey using the Canterbury EQ Insurance Tribunal for example, and have immense experience in the decision making process regarding claims resolution. I am at a loss as to why EQC would be doing this," Jones said.

Jones encouraged as many people as possible to take part in the consultation.

EQC said the dispute resolution scheme would be available to help resolve disputes about decisions on whether a claim for natural hazard damage was valid, or the amount of the settlement, for claims on or after 1 July 2024.

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