When the results of the public enquiry into the Earthquake Commission were published, they brought to light a broad array of issues in relation to EQC’s handling of natural disaster claims – some of which it is now attempting to address through its recently launched partnership with eight private insurers.
Dame Silvia Cartwright’s report noted that communications were a particular issue throughout the claims process for the Canterbury earthquakes, commenting that EQC’s communications “frequently came to be viewed as misleading, unhelpful or self-serving,” and the distribution of a brochure entitled “Who does what?” also caused widespread confusion.
“Beyond working with the likes of private insurers and government agencies, it is incumbent on EQC to reach out and partner with iwi, local councils and communities of all stripes to better communicate,” Dame Cartwright said.
“Genuine partnerships built on trust enable information to reach those who need it.”
“Just as disasters force homeowners and communities to adapt to a ‘new normal’, so must EQC adapt in how it communicates,” she added. “This means being flexible in the nature of communications and being prepared to adjust quickly to meet audience needs.”
Dame Cartwright noted the 2013-2015 ‘Shared Property Project’ between EQC and insurers, which was described as a “good example of collaboration between EQC and private insurers to achieve settlement for complex building claims.” This has now been expanded on with the new EQC-private insurer claims model, which Tower Insurance said would result in a significant number of improvements for customers.
“The new model means a customer whose house or land is damaged in a natural disaster will only need to contact their insurer, and we will handle the entirety of the claim including the EQC’s statutory capped level of damage under the EQC Act,” CEO Blair Turnbull said.
“This means the main improvements customers will notice are a reduction in delays, because one point of contact is taking ownership of their entire claim, and the removal of the duplication in assessment and settlement processes.
“There will also be a reduced risk of conflicting information, and insurer customers will see improvements in the process, and have a more efficient communication experience.
“While we have not used this new model to handle the latest weather events, an informal version of the approach was successfully used in the Kaikoura earthquake recovery.”
The Natural Disaster Response Model between the EQC and eight private insurers officially launched yesterday.