A bill that makes insurance claims after natural disasters easier passed its third and final reading Tuesday in Parliament. The bill comes as New Zealand reels from the severe consequences of one of its largest natural disasters, Cyclone Gabrielle, in addition to the Auckland Anniversary floods last January.
The bill, named Natural Hazards Insurance Bill, clarifies the rules around making multiple insurance claims on mixed or multi-use buildings. In turn, it makes it easier for people with damaged retaining walls, bridges, and culverts to understand how much compensation they are approved for. The bill also establishes a claimant code of conduct in addition to a disputes resolution service.
While the changes are not expected to take effect until July, Earthquake Commission (EQC) minister Deborah Russell said in a report that the changes would mean that Kiwis making a claim will not have to go through the same traumatic experiences as those by the people of Canterbury when the 2010 X intensity earthquake struck the area.
The bill will also make changes to the EQC’s name, changing it to Toka Tū Ake, or the Natural Hazards Commission.
As part of chief Tim Grafton’s statement of '”build back better” following the calamities, the ICNZ recently spoke at the Parliament’s Environment Select Committee considering the Natural and Built Environment Bill. Amongst other matters, this bill contains draft provisions to reduce risks from natural hazards as a condition of rebuilding after a disaster. However, while this bill may seem promising in acting as a cushion for the blows that come with extreme natural disasters such as Gabrielle, it will not take effect for several years.
The government also mobilized the New Zealand Claims Resolution Service earlier this week to help avoid disputes, resolve issues, and settle claims in the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle.
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