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The new insurance advocacy service for quake hit Cantabrians plans to be up and running in a month’s time.
The Canterbury Insurance Advocacy Service (CIAS – pronounced “See-us”) is establishing a charitable trust and approaching potential trustees in order to satisfy the motion raised and passed at the City Council meeting last month. The Council is to support the new advocacy service with an initial grant of $200,000.
Acting Chair, Mike Coleman, says as soon as the trust elements are completed to the satisfaction of Deputy Mayor Ngaire Button and Councillor Yani Johanson, other funding will be applied for and operational aspects will be established.
“It is abundantly clear advocacy is urgently needed and that is why we have said we will look to be up and running in a month or so. This will be our absolute focus,” Coleman says.
Coleman adds CIAS is speaking with key representatives of CERA’s Residential Advisory Service (RAS) and will be meeting with them on Monday afternoon.
“We see the two services working very much alongside one another, or indeed dove tailing where possible,” he says. “Things will be much clearer as to how we can do that once we know more about the Advisory Service and how it will work.”
CIAS is speaking to a number of organisations about office space, equipment, staff and operating structure. Coleman says there is much to be done and the CIAS team is as much focused on timeliness as they are on “getting it right”.
“There are several members of the CIAS team who have been working for many months with incredibly stressed and often unwell people to actively help them progress their claims. They have in many cases achieved great success. We need to bring more people like this together, with other suitably experienced and qualified individuals, to help as many Cantabrians as we can,” he says.
Each claimant will be assessed on a case by case basis with the primary focus on helping those suffering from health problems or financial stress and who are struggling to progress their residential insurance claims.
“This will be a different service to what Cantabrian’s have had to work with to date. It will be face-to-face and personal, while maintaining a level of professionalism and efficiency. The advocacy service will focus on the individual’s case and the humanity needed at each stage of the process, particularly given the difficulties people have been dealing with for so long.We are incredibly positive and aren’t looking at why something can’t be done. We are looking at how we can do it, and getting on with it,” says Coleman.
For further information, please contact: Ali Jones 027 247 3112 firstname.lastname@example.org
What is the aim of CIAS (pronounced See-us)?
To advocate for those affected by the Canterbury earthquakes to achieve progress and fair play from their insurers and EQC.
Isn’t that what the Advisory Service is doing?
We understand that CERA’s Residential Advisory Service is primarily offering advice. The main difference we see at this stage is that we will be actively supporting and representing people, as needed, to help advance their insurance claims. One way to perhaps illustrate this is: the Advisory Service may tell a claimant they need to find form A and form B, fill them in and should go to X office at X time and speak with a certain person. The Advocacy Service will obtain the forms for the claimant, help them to fill in the documents and go with them to act as an advocate.
How will you staff CIAS?
We are still working through a large number of operational matters and that is one of them. There is a significant number of organisations and individuals in industries related to the recovery – for example legal, engineering, quantity surveying, banking and insurance – who have either contacted us keen to be involved, or are already working with us. They will be invaluable help as we establish our systems, physical offices and staffing.
How will people find you?
When we are up and running, we will use our broad contacts in, for example, earthquake recovery groups, electorate offices, community boards and the media (social and traditional), to communicate where we are, who we are, what we do and how we can help.
What about the concerns that have been leveled at an advocacy service by individuals like Minister Gerry Brownlee, who has suggested establishing such a service would involve "significant potential legal and regulatory complexities"?
We are not looking at why we can’t help, we are looking at how we can. Respected and experienced insurance lawyer Duncan Webb has publicly dismissed this concern and we are fortunate to be speaking with him and similarly minded professionals as we work to establish the service.
Are the insurers on board with you?
We are strengthening our links with a number of insurers, as well as banks. They will naturally both play an important part in making progress with people’s claims so those relationships and others are key.
Who is involved in setting up the Trust and Advisory Service?
Mike Coleman (Acting Chair / Counsellor, Ali Jones (Communications Manager / TC3), Dean Lester (Insurance Advocate), Kiri Hider and Carmel Jaggar (TC3), Maria Thackwell (Financial / TC3), Annette Rutledge (QS), Victoria Whitta (QS) and Glenn Livingstone (City Councillor).
All of these people provide a broad and valuable base of support and knowledge.
Note: a Facebook page and Website will be up and running very soon.
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” Henry Ford