The Claimants Reference Group (CRG) is pleased to see a renewed focus on the claimant as the Government announces its response to the Dame Silvia Cartwright inquiry however says key points have been missed.
EQC board chairperson, Mary Jane Daly, has today said that the Commission “has embraced the findings by Dame Silvia Cartwright’s Public Inquiry into EQC”.
CRG chair, Ali Jones, agrees there have been some very positive advances in the last 18 months to two years – particularly the introduction of the On Sold policy - and it is pleasing to hear that EQC is well advanced in implementing all recommendations in the Cartwright report.
Ali Jones says although EQC states it is “improving the customer experience”, the CRG is disappointed that the focus in EQC’s media release today appears to be related to a very small part of what has been identified as causing the issues for claimants i.e. building stronger partnerships with other agencies and insurers who appear to be their preferred stakeholders.
“Dame Silvia Cartwright actually made the effort to produce a companion document that includes claimants’ experiences. As the inquiry found*, those experiences were often the result of poor damage assessments, lack of quality assurance, and inconsistent processes resulting in damaged homes and much distress for communities, for many years,” she says. “The CRG believes that building stronger partnerships with other agencies and insurers whilst necessary does not address some of the main reasons for EQC’s failures.”
The CRG believes EQC’s mission “To reduce the impact on people and property when natural disasters occur”, is not adequately reflected in EQC’s framing of the solutions; solutions EQC says are based on Dame Silvia’s report. The CRG has consistently recommended three main areas of focus for EQC, all included in Dame Silvia’s report multiple times.
“There must be better and consistent staff training in all matters relating to the EQC Act and claims management process; the CRG still has concerns about the lack of consistent and independent engineering assessments related to earthquake claims, and finally there must be robust quality assurance systems in place so that regular and effective auditing of processes and suppliers can occur. Once these things are established, only then do we believe claimants can be confident EQC will be better set up to help all New Zealanders to prepare for and recover from the next natural disaster whenever that might happen,” says Jones.
*”It is abundantly clear to me that thorough, consistent and accurate assessments of damage underpin the integrity and outcome of the entire process. Time and time again the root of the problem and disputes claimants described to me with regards to settling their claims, stemmed from poorly undertaken assessments of damage.” Dame Silvia Cartwright
Pge 13 in the hard copy of Dame Silvia’s report. https://eqcinquiry.govt.nz/inquiry-reports/