Homeowners with pending private insurance claims could miss out on new quake service

Homeowners with pending private insurance claims could miss out on new quake service

An insurance advocate has called on private insurers to join the new “one-stop shop” resolution service for quake claimants. Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Megan Woods launched the Greater Christchurch Claims Resolution Service (GCCRS) on Tuesday to help settle unresolved earthquake insurance claims.

 

iViis delivered an online case management system driving the new one-stop shop service established for outstanding earthquake residential insurance claims. The system recently went live after a three-month agile development project. This article is part of the coverage of the service’s launch.

 

This article was originally published on www.stuff.co.nz on 9/10/18.

An insurance advocate has called on private insurers to join the new “one-stop shop” resolution service for quake claimants.

Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Megan Woods launched the Greater Christchurch Claims Resolution Service (GCCRS) on Tuesday to help settle unresolved earthquake insurance claims.

Earthquake Commission (EQC) has 3137 open claims on its books and 548 claims still sit with Southern Response 548. These claimants will have access to the new service’s settlement advice, mediation, engineering expertise, legal guidance and dispute resolution.

However, an estimated 1400 homeowners with unresolved private insurance claims may not see the full benefit of the new service.

When homeowners sign up to the website and are verified, they can access the most recent reports from EQC and Southern Response relating to their property. Private insurers are not providing these reports.

Woods said she was inviting private insurance companies to become part of the scheme.

However, Insurance Council of New Zealand chief executive Tim Grafton said it was likely private insurers wanted to see if the service made a significant difference, and was sure they would want to become involved if it proved to settle claims more quickly.

Insurance advocate Ali Jones said private insurers had been “woefully absent” and urged them to “get involved”.

Overall Jones said she felt positive about the new service including the post-settlement support being offered. She said the time after settling could be “a real crash” for claimants.

She also thought there were issues with repair methodology which needed to be addressed and looked forward to independent advice from Engineering NZ.

Nineteen claimants used the service on the first day.

The free service can be accessed online, over the phone or face-to-face at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) Cashel St office.

For EQC and Southern Response claimants, the website will tell homeowners where their claim is up to, what needs to be done next, who was responsible for doing it and when it had to be done by. It will provide homeowners with names and contact numbers for the individual managing their claims.

A new Internal Dispute Resolution Service is being set up, to work in two parts. The first is a facilitation process where homeowners and insurers try to work to an agreement.

If this does not work, a determination process is being set up, where an independent person comes in to oversee the discussion before making a binding decision. MBIE hopes to have this running by early November.

The service is funded by MBIE, with a forecast cost of $4.35m to run until June 30. The money will come from existing budgets for MBIE, EQC and Southern Response.

The previous Government helped fund the Residential Advisory Service between 2013 and 2017. The current Government has extended the service, which is still available to those affected by other events such as the November 2016 earthquake and Edgecombe flooding.

Fendalton homeowner Ayingaran Sundaralingam said an ongoing claim and botched repair had affected his family.

He said four separate engineering reports – two by EQC and two he commissioned himself – all pointed to the need for a foundation replacement. Since then he had battled Southern Response, which disagreed.

Sundaralingam was not confident the new resolution services would effectively manage his claim and others like it.

“Personally, as homeowners, we don’t believe MBIE are impartial or neutral in this aspect. If they’re the ones who are going to run it, there’s no confidence in homeowners that it’s going to be a fair outcome.”

GCCRS director Darren Wright said the service was demand driven and would shut down if homeowners did not use it.

Woods said the GCCRS was part of a “pipeline” of government initiatives that would culminate in the insurance tribunal. The tribunal, currently passing through Parliament, had $8 million assigned to it in the Budget.



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