The EQC Claimants Reference Group (CRG) is pleased an option for a group of ‘on sold’ claimants has been presented today, by the Government.
Homeowners who have failed repairs or incomplete assessments of earthquake damage, AND their house was an EQC undercap repair at the time of purchase, will be able to access an ex gratia payment to repair their homes.
‘On sold’ claimant and member of the CRG, Ali Jones, says she’s a bit wary of getting excited as there have been a lot of ups and downs over the last few years.
“On the face of it, this looks good,” she says. “The key will be ensuring the homeowner and EQC can agree on the repair methodology, and at the moment rubble foundations are a real thorn in the side of progress for many,” she says. “This is though, a light at the end of the tunnel and for the first time I think it might not be a big train coming to flatten us.”
Jones adds that the fact that the ex-gratia payment is only payable upon the signing of a construction contract (for example), to prove the repair will be undertaken, is an important element.
CRG member and Insurance Expert, Dean Lester agrees.
“We need our housing stock to be robust and repaired,” he says. “What EQC was set up to do was well summed up by the honourable Maurice McTigue (then the Minister of Finance) when the bill was going through Parliament. He said the intent of the EQC Act 1993 is, “to reduce the distress that is caused, in so far as that is possible,” and I totally support that position.”
Ali Jones says the announcement today is interesting with the ‘on solds’ test case due to be heard in Christchurch on August 26.
“We don’t know for sure about the timing but regardless, this decision will mean those in that action and the many of hundreds of us waiting for the outcome, don’t have to go through the weeks that were set down for the hearing, nor wait for what could have been years for an appeal,” she says.
Jones says, the announcement today may in fact help more quickly improve the health and wellbeing of those involved with the test case and others who have been fighting for several years.
Who is the Claimant Reference Group – (CRG):
In February 2018, the then Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission, Hon Dr Megan Woods, appointed an Independent Ministerial Advisor, Christine Stevenson, to advise the Minister on speeding up the resolution of outstanding EQC insurance claims arising from the 2010-11 Canterbury earthquakes.
The report was released was released on 6 June 2018, and one of the recommendations was for EQC to establish a Claimant Reference Group (CRG), comprised of claimants and community representative advocates who are paid for their time and expertise, and with whom EQC senior management meets regularly.
Following this recommendation, the CRG was designed in partnership between EQC and a group of claimant representatives to deliver on the brief outlined in the recommendation.
The CRG was subsequently established and met for the first time in October 2018.
The CRG has been established with the purpose of “improving the EQC experience of current and future claimants, with an immediate focus on the Christchurch experience”. The CRG will achieve this by focusing their efforts on “ensuring EQC is actively resolving the most important issues openly and transparently with claimants”.
The CRG is responsible for:
Generating ideas about areas EQC can improve;
Testing EQC improvements, and;
Liaising with EQC to monitor and communicate progress.
The CRG meets regularly as a group, at least monthly initially, engaging with EQC senior management and other experts as required in order to develop and communicate its advice.
The current members of the CRG were invited to participate in the group based on their expertise, and previous advocacy for the voice and rights of claimants. The members of the CRG represent a variety of interests from the Canterbury community and have been appointed for an initial term until 31 October 2019. Members of the CRG are reimbursed for their time in line with the Cabinet Fees Framework.