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Insurers unsure of quake liabilities

04 Aug 2016

Private insurers have no idea by which date they hope to know the full extent of their liability from the 2010-11 Canterbury earthquakes, the Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) has said.
In early May, the government-run Earthquake Commission (EQC) gave itself six weeks to classify a final "bucket" of Canterbury earthquake claims.

ICNZ Chief Executive Tim Grafton said then that EQC had advised insurers that it would confirm whether the 300 claims still to be classified were under or over the NZ$100,000 (US$72,000) damage cap by the end of June. He said once the claims were classified private insurers would theoretically know the full extent of their liability, reported the news site, EQC must refer claims for damage over NZ$100,000 to private insurers.

An EQC spokesman said about 215 properties that reached  cap were handed over to private insurers by the end of June.

"As explained in May, the figure of 300 was an estimate. All properties identified as having reached cap up to this time were handed over to private insurers," he said.

EQC was confident the total number of over-cap properties would only be slightly higher than the 25,000 forecast in 2013. 

"There is also a smaller number of claims yet to be settled outside of the Canterbury Home Repair Programme that may also go over-cap, such as claims involving multi-unit buildings or in cases where EQC has revisited a claim," the spokesman said. He said EQC kept in regular contact with private insurers about any likely over-cap claims.

Councillor Ali Jones, who has advocated on behalf of many earthquake-hit claimants, said it was "absolutely" taking too long for claims to be classified.She said that several deadlines for settling claims had been missed since the earthquakes.

"In this situation, I believe there needs to be a change in legislation, so that there is a legislative requirement as to resolution of claims,” she said.

In May, the ICNZ announced that private insurers had settled 20,000 Canterbury earthquake over cap residential property claims in its latest release of quarterly progress data. Mr Grafton had said then that “insurers have now fully settled 91% of all Canterbury earthquake residential properties.  This represents 20,000 over cap and 63,000 out-of-scope properties.  We have also settled 93% of commercial claims worth NZ$9.6 billion as at 31 March 2016”. Including residential properties, the total claims payout stood at NZ$17.8 billion at 31 March 2016.

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