We have some pretty clear short, medium and long-term goals.
Sort the current and real mess out. Meet with everyone who is stuck or feels they can’t progress, and triage the situation. That doesn’t mean rolling out a policeman from Queensland to sit and take notes from a distraught person and then put people on hold for 3 months. We need experienced, qualified, empathetic and senior people to manage these claims - as per the claimants policy and the EQC act - starting with a face to face meeting. Much can also be quickly achieved by dealing with the low hanging fruit immediately (you’d be surprised how much of that there is) and get on with hour by hour, day by day management of a claim to get it sorted - EQC and private insurers.
There’s a very urgent need to look at the structure, people and processes in EQC as they currently operate - and not as part of the inquiry. There are things that can change straight away that will help facilitate sorting the current mess out much faster and fairly. For example with over cap payments - get the electronic payments people speaking to the paper cheque sending people so they can all do one thing and do it in the best interest of the claimant - I kid you not, the silos even in an area as basic as how people are paid their over cap payments are real and unnecessarily ridiculous.
As for those on a never-ending court list somewhere, get the courts open to hear EQ cases only - make it night court if you have to but get those that are ready, in front of a judge, now! Open a new court if you have to. And on the liability issue (“on solds”, no deed of assigment etc), file declaratory judgements using the $1m fund the Labour Government said it has for this very reason, to rule on liability so we can all get on with getting on.
Get the EQC Commission of Inquiry (CoI) underway ASAP; be open with the drafting of the Terms of Reference (ToR) as well as the wide range of expert and experienced people who can contribute to this. An online survey is a good start to see what people want in an inquiry but that’s not the best way to ascertain what ToR’s are needed. Get a review underway (not a part of the EQC CoI) to look at the way insurers have behaved/performed and what people have experienced. This is badly needed to inform a part of our long-term goals.
Clearly the EQC CoI will inform larger scale changes needed in the organisation and quite possibly the EQC Act. There also should be legislation drafted and implemented to limit the time insurers can stretch claims resolution out. It is done overseas, why not here? Adding financial penalties to claims that remain unresolved after a period of time (12-18 months?) will also help avoid the appalling situation so many in Christchurch find themselves in #7YearsOn
Establishing an Insurance Department with an Insurance Commissioner as they have done in California, is essential. The Ombudsman has no teeth and to be frank has been pretty ineffective in managing or in anyway controlling the disasterous aftermath of the EQ claims related to the Canterbury earthquakes.
We need an advocate for the public, someone who has the claimants position at the heart of resolving issues.
We know this Labour government has just got its feet under the table however this situation is urgent and after #7YearsOn we believe it must be addressed immediately.
We have not got much more energy, money or life left in us. Please help so we can get our lives back.