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Friday, April 29, 2011

EQC lets insurers do many quotes

EQC lets insurers do many quotes

Last updated 05:00 27/04/2011
The Earthquake Commission will not visit many severely damaged homes, relying instead on private insurers.

The commission yesterday confirmed it would not visit some homes with damage exceeding $100,000, instead accepting private insurers' assessments, subject to a review.

The policy has been in place since the September earthquake. However, differences in how insurers measured damage led to varying valuations, leaving many quake-hit homeowners confused.

Canterbury event manager Reid Stiven said that since February 22, the commission had met insurers to create a standardised costing system.

"There were some huge disparities between what we costed, and it was about the methodologies used," he said.

"Since February 22, we've gone back to them [the insurers] and said, `Could we do this better?"'

The policy would apply only to severely damaged properties, and people would still have their land assessed by the commission, he said.

The commission had received 118,041 claims since February 22, bringing the claims total, since September 4, to 302,440.

The commission had also done "rapid assessments" on 180,000 Christchurch homes since February 22, classifying 12,000 as severely damaged, 8000 as possibly severely damaged and 40,000 as moderately damaged. About half of the severely damaged homes had now been fully assessed.

AMI has signed up to do full assessment on behalf of the commission, with chief customer officer Richard Hutton saying it could speed up house assessments.

"With the significant increase in claims, it's about trying to best utilise all available resources. We are trying to remove double-ups."

However, Hutton said the February quake would create its own insurance complications, particularly regarding which quake was responsible for damage. "It is much more confusing now."

IAG, which owns State and NZI, said it had signed up to do work on the commission's behalf on April 2 with the aim of streamlining the process for customers.

Tony King has been locked into a dispute with the commission since the September quake after receiving varying valuations on his Tuahiwi house.

AMI's structural engineers had assessed the damage at more than $300,000, but the commission insisted it was only $7500, sending him a cheque last month that he had refused to bank. "It is a big bloody difference," he said.

After lobbying through his MP, the commission agreed to send an assessor last month and he is waiting to see whether the two figures can be reconciled.

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