EQC Toka Tū Ake chief responds to “massaging figures” allegation

CEO clarifies comment on pending claims with the crown entity

EQC Toka Tū Ake chief responds to “massaging figures” allegation


By Terry Gangcuangco

EQC Toka Tū Ake chief executive Tina Mitchell (pictured) has responded to an allegation that the crown entity is massaging its claims figures.

Earlier this month, the camp of former Christchurch City Councillor Ali Jones put out a release outlining how Mitchell was wrong to assert that the oldest claim pending with EQC is only two years old, and how “preferred statistics” are being produced.

Citing New Zealand Claims Resolution Service (NZCRS) data obtained by Jones via an Official Information Act (OIA) request, the ex-councillor pointed to several EQC claims with NZCRS that are between two and six years old.

Jones said: “It’s disappointing that despite the number of reports, reviews, and recommendations that have been undertaken over the years related to EQC, there still appears to be a lack of openness and, more importantly, doing what’s right and correct for the claimant, when it comes to managing claims.”

EQC clarifies “two years old”

In response to the criticism, Mitchell told Insurance Business: “The oldest Canterbury Earthquake Sequence claim we have (excluding those in litigation or other formal disputes processes) is now just on two years old.

“Our team works extremely hard to support homeowners to get their homes fixed as soon as possible, and, over the past two years, about 85% of reopened Canterbury claims were settled within six months.”

The CEO went on to clarify: “This two-year timeframe mentioned above does not include those being managed under the Southern Response MOU (which are overcap and not reported in these Canterbury claims figures) or the On-solds scheme.”

What is considered a “closed” claim?

Aside from the “massaging claims” allegation, Jones also lamented what EQC considers a closed claim, which according to her is a claim in which settlement or other documentation has been sent.

Jones declared: “It is implicit in the word ‘settlement’ that there is agreement. Homeowners are receiving emails, and when they contact EQC they are told their claim is closed. Then it is reopened, and EQC considers it a new claim – hey, presto, old claim numbers are reduced. It’s a sham.”

Explaining EQC’s process, Mitchell noted: “We close claims once we are confident that we have fully settled our liability for earthquake damage; however, we will reopen a claim if we receive new evidence of earthquake damage and the claim should be reconsidered.

“We are aware the New Zealand Claims Resolution Service is also providing support for some claims that are open in their system but closed in ours until we receive evidence that there is outstanding EQCover liability.”

The chief executive added that they are conscious that the term “closed” can mean different things.

“We use it more in a process sense to indicate whether a file is currently active on our system or not, which then supports resourcing and workload allocations,” Mitchell told Insurance Business. “That was the definition used when answering this OIA request.

“However, we also give more high-level information about total numbers of claims in our performance reports posted to our website and in our annual reports. NZCRS also reports on this information openly.”

Mitchell also expressed EQC’s commitment to managing all claims in a manner that is not only fair but also timely, ensuring that homeowners receive their entitlements under the EQC Act.

“We encourage any customers who believe their claims have not received their full entitlements to please send us any supporting information for our consideration,” she said.  

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