It’s disappointing the Government has rejected a proposed change to the Earthquake Commission Amendment Bill which would’ve streamlined the process for claimants after a significant natural disaster, National’s EQC spokesperson Stuart Smith.

“The previous Government built on the lessons of the Christchurch earthquake and the way in which New Zealand responded to an event of that size. Changes to the claim settlement process were made when the Kaikoura earthquake occurred and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Earthquake Commission (EQC) and private insurers.

“This allowed claimants to immediately file a claim with private insurers rather than going through the slow and stressful process of filing a claim with EQC who would then pass it on to the insurer if it was assessed as being over cap.

“My proposed change would allow for the possibility of the MoU to be applied to all insurance claims, allowing future claims to be resolved efficiently and in a timely manner.

“EQC Minister Megan Woods has said in the past she wants to draw on the lessons learnt from the Kaikoura pilot approach to settling claims. But rather than making immediate changes, she is instead waiting for the next piece of EQC legislation to do this.

“But natural disasters don’t wait for bureaucratic processes.

“The success of the Kaikoura pilot approach was highlighted by the fact that 99 per cent of claims were assessed within three months, as opposed to taking over a year for the Christchurch earthquake.

“Private insurers are capable and have a far greater amount of domestic and international resources available to handle and assess a large number of claims, should another significant event occur.

“Assigning the responsibility of handing claims to private insurers would simplify the process and significantly reduce the stress associated with such events. It’s unnecessary for EQC to try and compete for resources with private insurers.

“Instead the Minister is prepared to leave Kiwis in limbo, dealing with an extensive, slow and painful settlement process.

“Dr Woods talked a big game in Opposition about speeding up processes. It’s disappointing because if another significant natural disaster occurs before the Minister legislates these new changes, Kiwi families will be the ones who suffer.”

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