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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Backlog of 300,000 claims likely to take 'years' to clear

Backlog of 300,000 claims likely to take 'years' to clear

DAVID WILLIAMS

Last updated 05:00 21/06/2011
 
It may take "some years" to clear all 300,000 outstanding claims, the Earthquake Commission says.

In figures provided to The Press yesterday, the commission showed it had completed 53,000 building, contents and land claims and paid out $942.3 million.

It still had 304,000 outstanding claims, including 120,000 contents claims.

However, the commission was still waiting on a schedule of contents or a damaged goods list from 80,000 claimants. The commission said payments may have been made on some outstanding quake claims, and the figures may be inflated by duplicates, claims under excess and people with no insurance.

The commission's Canterbury event manager, Reid Stiven, said completing claims was a long, complex process that may take "some years". Now that most houses with major damage had been inspected, home assessments should speed up.

"Over the next month or so we'll move into the more moderate damage [areas], which should see our inspection rate increase," he said.

"Taking into account we've had an Indian summer and we've got a Canterbury winter to come ... we're hopeful of having all the inspections finished by mid-December."

Stiven said there were 500 "bloody good people busting their guts in the field" to complete the inspections.

It was hoped that contents claims would be completed in a similar timeframe, he said.

The commission's ability to close land claims had been held back by the Government's land report. Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has indicated a land announcement would be made "very, very soon", but refused to confirm speculation it could come tomorrow or Thursday.

Stiven said repairs may take "some years" to complete but that had to be tempered by the fact the Canterbury quakes were the biggest insurance events in history.

"I think a good deal of Canterbury understand the enormity of the task and they are realistic that this is not going to happen overnight," he said. "I don't want to ask them to have patience because they shouldn't, but we're committed to have this done as quickly as possible."

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