Top ten recommendations from the Public Inquiry into the Earthquake Commission
The Report of the Public Inquiry into the Earthquake Commission, chaired by Dame Silvia Cartwright, was tabled in Parliament on 9 April 2020.
After reviewing the Earthquake Commission Act 1993, various problems that arose for the EQC and homeowners following the Canterbury earthquake events and subsequent events, the Inquiry makes a number of findings and then gives recommendations for reform. We discuss those aspects of the Inquiry’s report here.
In this note we summarise the top 10 recommendations included in the report. These are:
- Clarification of the EQC’s Role, including co-ordinating its response with that of the insurance industry and clarifying expectations about land remediation following a natural catastrophe.
- Amendment to the 1993 Act to include a statement of purpose and principles.
- Review of the legislative framework to resolve many of the issues that have arisen in the courts, including the meaning of phrases such as “when new” and “reinstatement”.
- Greater co-operation is encouraged between Government and the EQC.
- Review of the cap of $150,000.
- Review of legislation applicable to the standard of repairs.
- For multi-occupied buildings, clarification of the responsibilities of the EQC and private insurers to the various parts of the building.
- For claims handling, the EQC should treat claimants with dignity, share information with claimants, provide community advice, develop clear guidelines as to how assessments are to be carried out, put in place quality assurance programmes in respect of repairs and develop policies as to reinstatement and to the making of cash payments.
- Consideration of the adoption of a legislative requirement for private insurers to advise the EQC at least annually of their residential policyholders’ location and property ownership.
- For dispute resolution:
- the development of a standing dispute resolution mechanism that is robust, accessible, timely and responsive to complainants, drawing on the experience of the Canterbury earthquakes, including the experiences of EQC and claimants, if necessary backed by legislation;
- the giving of support and adequate resourcing of a community law service that provides free or low-cost legal advice to assist claimants in the event of dispute with EQC; and
- consideration of regulating insurance advocates or those providing related services to claimants to provide assurance and clarity for claimants and to avoid predatory behaviour.
Disclaimer: the content of this article is general in nature and not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter and should not be relied upon for that purpose.