The bill that will establish an insurance tribunal to resolve long-outstanding Earthquake Commission (EQC) and insurance claims has passed its third reading.
According to Justice Minister Andrew Little, the Canterbury Earthquakes Insurance Tribunal Bill will soon be available to homeowners in the region to help them settle claims including those with Southern Response and the EQC.
“It is expected that the tribunal will be up and running in mid-June,” Little said. “The tribunal will be homeowner-led and will be able to tailor its approach to the needs of each case.”
“Referral to an independent, funded mediation service will be one of the options available for resolving claims without the need for a formal hearing,” he noted.
The minister explained homeowners who suffered damage in the December 23, 2011 earthquake are also eligible to apply to the tribunal with the date range for the Canterbury earthquakes extended to December 31, 2011. Liability for earthquake damage that occurred after 2011 will also be considered provided the initial damage occurred earlier. This means parties won’t have to go through a separate process to resolve damage issues.
“The tribunal will have the ability to award general damages and costs, and to appoint independent expert advisers to help the tribunal understand the technical aspects of a claim,” Little said. “There will be no fee to access the tribunal, and homeowners will not need a lawyer to access it.”
The tribunal will complement existing dispute resolution processes, including the government’s Greater Canterbury Claims Resolution Service (GCCRS) which was set up in October last year to help fast-track outstanding residential insurance claims, the minister added.