The Earthquake Commission (EQC) of New Zealand has officially launched a consultation period for its proposed independent dispute resolution scheme.
The initiative is in response to the upcoming Natural Hazards Insurance Act 2023 (NHI Act), which is scheduled to be enacted on July 1, 2024.
The new scheme is designed to support homeowners insured against natural hazards in contesting claim decisions.
Tina Mitchell, chief executive of Toka Tū Ake EQC (the commission), said the organisation recognises the critical need for efficient and equitable resolution of insurance claims following natural disasters.
“We understand that there will be times when people do not agree with the settlement they receive, and it’s important that they have an independent and easy way to raise and resolve their dispute. We encourage people to engage with internal complaints processes in the first instance to resolve their disputes. They will also have the option to contact the external dispute resolution service provider,” she said.
The proposed dispute resolution scheme aims to offer a straightforward and accessible process for dispute resolution, ensuring homeowners are supported from the beginning.
The service is intended to address disagreements regarding the legitimacy of natural hazard damage claims or the amount of compensation, applicable to incidents occurring from July 1, 2024, onwards.
The EQC has nominated Fair Way Resolution as the preferred provider to operate this external dispute resolution facility.
Mitchell extended an invitation for input on the scheme’s design and regulations from insured homeowners, community members, and organisations, emphasising the objective of ensuring the scheme’s fairness and effectiveness.
“We are asking for feedback on the scheme rules and design, and whether there is anything else that needs to be included to ensure the process is fair and reasonable,” she said.
Comprehensive details on the scheme, including background information, draft rules, and submission instructions, are accessible on the EQC’s website.
Stakeholders are encouraged to submit their feedback through an online form, email, postal mail, or by calling the Commission at 0800 DAMAGE by the deadline of 5pm, March 6, 2024.
The EQC also recently funded a research project focusing on Auckland lava caves, with homeowners and developers uncovering around one new lava cave each month within the Auckland Volcanic Field (AVF).