The Claimants Reference Group (CRG) hopes a partnership with private insurers, announced today, will enable them to focus on better outcomes for Claimants, however is sounding a warning.
The CRG says they see a number of positives in the arrangement between EQC and private insurers including one point of contact, no need to file two claims, no need for EQC and insurer to double up on assessments, and the insurers are much better resourced to be ready to go following an event.
However, the CRG believes there are some fundamental problems that the proposed insurer-led model / insurer response model (IRM) does not address.
CRG Chair, Ali Jones, says it doesn’t solve one of the critical findings in Dame Silvia’s Cartwright's report, which is all about assessment of damage, no matter who is undertaking that assessment - EQC, private insurer or contractors, and it must be thorough, consistent and accurate.
“In her report (Assessment of Damage, pg 13 of the report) Dame Silvia says… “it is abundantly clear to me that thorough, consistent and accurate assessments of damage underpin the integrity and outcome of the entire process.” As we have seen as recently as last Friday, IAG’s process was “flawed” (assessment and process) – as identified by Justice Gendall (Sleight case), so what faith should claimants have in a private insurer led model?” says Jones.
The decision by EQC follows a trial after the Kaikōura earthquake, which saw the private insurer manage EQC’s claims.
“We believe that the outcomes for Kaikōura Claimants may not have been adequately reviewed and we are still waiting for details EQC says it has on this. It would be great to know that claimants are in fully and correctly repaired homes, but who would know? Direct feedback from some Claimants to the CRG on what happened in Kaikōura post-quake, does not align with what we have heard from EQC, and we believe it is essential to base a major decision like this on all of the facts.”
The CRG is pleased that EQC is keen to implement Dame Silvia’s recommendations, however questions the Insurance Council of New Zealand’s comments today that this will “ensure a more effective and efficient response, delivering simplicity and certainty for customers during a very stressful time”.
Jones says unless assessments of damage are thorough, consistent and accurate, partnering with the private insurer is not going to address the significant issues claimants have faced, and continue to face, many years on.
“We do think that this is a wonderful opportunity for EQC to now be able to focus on quality, enduring outcomes, and reducing distress for claimants,” says Jones.
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