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‘More questions than answers following EQC announcement of new claim resolutions service’

“Very odd.”

That from Ali Jones who has been working alongside Canterbury insurance claimants for a decade, after EQC today announced the start of public consultation around a new claims resolution service.

Jones says the New Zealand Claims Resolution Service has been operating in one form or another since 2013 and only recently renamed itself from the Greater Christchurch Claims Resolution Service. It has extended its remit to work up with those affected by weather events including Cyclone Gabriele.

She cannot understand why EQC appears to want to reinvent the wheel and there are several more questions she says EQC must answer after the announcement today.

“EQC is saying that this new service is needed because the new Natural Hazards Insurance Act (2023) which takes effect on July this year, requires it. That doesn’t make sense when there is already a dispute resolution service operating. There are experienced and knowledgeable people at the NZCRS, who know the processes, how to assist people with their journey using the Canterbury EQ Insurance Tribunal for example, and have immense experience in the decision making process regarding claims resolution. I am at a loss as to why EQC would be doing this?”

Jones says when she asked EQC that very question today, and where does this decision to appoint Fairway Resolution Services as the new provider, leave ths current service, she was told that a “Very robust procurement process was used” to make this decision.

“So a decision has been made before a consultation process has even started. That begs the question as to how pre-determined this was; they have no feedback from those who will use this service and those who have worked in this area for more than ten years. It’s very odd,” says Jones.

She also asks where this leaves the Canterbury EQ insurance tribunal, which has helped so many and had around 44 published cases since it was established.

“I see the EQC proposal says If either side is unhappy with the outcome of the Fairway Service and decisions, they may appeal to an appropriate court. We want to stay out of court, that’s why the NZCRS and Tribunal were set up. If that’s what EQC wants to have happen, they are not making justice accessible, they are doing the opposite,” she says.

Jones says she will be contacting EQC minister David Seymour as she believes this is one of the most backward steps the organisation will be taking if they go down the road they seem to be heading.

“This is not best for claimants and there are hundreds and hundreds of them. As Dame Silvia Cartwrights March 2020 review of EQC (pg 29) stated “EQC’s operational practices must put the needs of claimants first and at the centre of what it does and ensure people get what they are entitled to.” There is no doubt in my mind, what EQC is wanting to do ignores this, and in many ways, it feels as though Dame Silvia’s review never happened,” she says.

 

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