Christchurch organisation Canterbury Communities Earthquake Recovery Network (CanCERN
) is set to wind up operations at the end of the year but is appealing to insurers to use and fund its successful mediation arm.
Since being set up to represent earthquake-affected Christchurch community groups, CanCERN had evolved into an organisation helping homeowners and insurers to resolve insurance claims, spokesperson Leanne Curtis said.
Its Breakthrough service is a free facilitation service CanCERN currently runs with Southern Response
customers whose claims have stalled for a variety of reasons.
Curtis said the appeal of the Breakthrough service, which is contracted to Southern Response
for 12 weeks, is that facilitators aim to understand where the claim is at from the homeowner’s perspective and what needs to happen for the claim to progress to the next stage.
“Some people need a legal route, some people need a technical route and some people need a communication broker,” she said.
“We don’t negotiate for a specific claim outcome because we’re not lawyers, quantity surveyors or engineers. We are, however, able to facilitate a constructive discussion where homeowners can have the conversation they need to have with the right people at Southern Response
As their work has also helped insurers and the EQC to improve processes, Curtis said an alternative source of funding from the very generous donations they’d had from groups such as the Tindall Foundation, Todd Foundation and Hugh Green Foundation would be more appropriate.
“It’s really less appropriate that the community is paying for this, and it’s time that if the insurers and EQC really want to work with the community to try to do this last piece of the recovery really well, it’s more appropriate that they should fund that,” she said.
Curtis added: “Breakthrough has been really successful and we want to have the ability to continue offering that service next year as a different entity.
“We’re effectively consulting with some insurers and EQC on ways to improve services and when planning their communications.
“They bring in consultants all the time – we think community experience should also be seen as an area of expertise that they can seek outside advice on. We can help them see it from a resident’s perspective.”
She said their facilitation service could hopefully complement the Residential Advisory Service (RAS) which offers free independent legal advice.
A spokesperson for the Insurance Council of New Zealand said the matter was one for individual insurers to consider but added that ICNZ members were contributing $300,000 for RAS in the coming year.