The government will fund a free and independent advisory service to assist North Canterbury residents with insurance claims, Civil Defence Minister and Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission Gerry Brownlee says.
This pilot programme will be set up to deal with the specific insurance needs of residents following the magnitude 7.8 earthquake on November 14, 2016.
“I’m sure this announcement will be a relief for many residents who may be struggling with the complexities of their insurance claims,” Mr Brownlee says.
“We have seen how much stress insurance issues can cause people, so the Crown and local authorities have been very focused on providing residents with support as soon as possible.”
Residents will be able to receive advice through face-to-face meetings with Community Law staff at local hubs.
“We are working closely with the local authorities in Hurunui, Kaikoura and Marlborough to establish the local hubs and determine the best locations for them,” Mr Brownlee says.
The service will incorporate the experiences and learnings from the Residential Advisory Service (RAS), which has successfully assisted thousands of Christchurch residents with their insurance claims after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.
The RAS has been a highly successful service in Christchurch since its establishment in 2013, advising 16,236 residents and progressing 4,484 residential property owners to a meeting with an independent advisor or broker.
The North Canterbury advisory service will be set up in a slightly different way from the Christchurch RAS, as the insurance challenges and needs in North Canterbury are different from Christchurch.
“The RAS was developed in Christchurch, revised, reviewed and adapted over a number of years as issues emerged in a changing environment.
“In North Canterbury, the situation is different, and we are still right at the start of the process, hence the decision to begin with a pilot programme with legal support which can be adapted as we go forward,” Mr Brownlee says.
The new advisory service in North Canterbury will be funded by the Crown but led and resourced by Community Law.
Residents who would like to discuss this service directly with Community Law can ring 0800EQLEGAL (0800 3753425).