The Homeowners Advisory Group (HOAG) has supported a new engineering brief template that could help earthquake victims.
Engineering New Zealand, a non-profit professional body, developed the template to improve outcomes for claimants with earthquake-damaged homes.
HOAG, which works alongside the Greater Christchurch Claims Resolution Service (GCCRS), stated that the template was a “good document” that more people should use when they ask an engineer for technical advice regarding an insurance claim.
Tom McBrearty, HOAG chair, commented that the template clearly reinforced the need to correctly identify earthquake damage and recommend reinstatement as per the property owner’s insurance policy and the EQC Act.
“For too long, the insurance response has not always been acknowledged in this process. It’s been about identifying obvious, visible damage and in many cases with a view to quickly and cost effectively returning people to their homes. This has, in our opinion, created a whole host of issues – failed repairs being one significant one,” said McBrearty.
“Engineers have been doing what has been asked of them and that’s their job but the briefs they have been provided with, in our opinion, are woefully deficient in a number of cases.”
Helen Davidson, general manager for legal and policy at Engineering New Zealand, said that having a standard template for engaging an engineer lets them focus on the technical issues rather than getting dragged into legal interpretation of insurance policies.
“Anyone can use our template to engage an engineer to carry out a damage assessment and provide reinstatement recommendations. Using the template helps make sure everyone involved is on the same page – and can prevent later conflict,” said Davidson.
The template letter of engagement can be found on the Engineering New Zealand website.