Consultation opened today on an independent service for homeowners disputing decisions about their EQC insurance claims, as new legislation comes into force later this year.
The Natural Hazards Insurance Act 2023 will come into force on July 1, replacing the existing Earthquake Commission Act.
The start of public consultation, which will include issues with private insurers, comes a week before the anniversary of Cyclone Gabrielle.
Many Auckland property owners are concerned about the way cases are handled by EQC — a Crown entity providing natural disaster insurance to residential property owners.
Displaced resident Abe Dew’s home sits next to a large slip that came down in February last year.
His house is undamaged, but he is not allowed to live there, and is one of the “lucky few” offered a buyout by EQC.
“We have found ourselves in a situation where we can start again, and a lot of people are still in limbo.”
Luci Harrison is still waiting for answers from Auckland Council and hoping to return to her at-risk property.
She said that EQC’s settlement was not enough for the retaining wall she has had built.
“I had this big shortfall where I had to get a second mortgage which cost me a lot of money, to be able to get back in my house to be able to afford to fix the property and build a retaining wall.”
EQC chief executive Tina Mitchell said that by law the commission can only pay a portion of the repair.
“In the case of land, it says in the legislation that the cap is the market value of the land and we can’t go beyond that.”
She believes that the Government fund is doing the job.
“It’s a contribution that will help everybody get back on their feet, but it won’t cover all of their costs, and that’s a fair scheme to have when you’re insuring all of the country at once.”
The minister responsible for EQC David Seymour said that he would be speaking to officials to ensure frameworks are fit for purpose.
“Anyone affected by a natural disaster should have confidence they can get their claim settled in a timely and fair manner and have some certainty so they can get on with their lives.”