Source: Earthquake Commission – EQC
The Earthquake Commission has embraced the findings by Dame Silvia Cartwright’s Public Inquiry into EQC and is well advanced in implementing all recommendations to make improvements across the organisation.
EQC Chairperson Mary-Jane Daly says EQC has worked closely with Government agencies to respond to the recommendations and feedback contained in the report.
“The report clearly highlights the challenges faced by EQC in responding to the Canterbury earthquakes, the most complex and damaging earthquake sequence in recent times. It makes serious criticisms of EQC and we have carefully considered the recommendations on how to make improvements.”
Dame Silvia’s report contains 70 recommendations for improvements, including both broad policy issues as well as operational issues. About 45 of the recommendations are the responsibility of EQC.
Daly says improving the customer experience has been a key focus for EQC, including implementing more efficient claims processes and building stronger partnerships with other agencies when responding to natural disasters so that claimants would have a more streamlined experience and a single point of contact for their claims.
“EQC’s response to the Canterbury earthquakes created a dual insurance system where customers had to make two claims – one to EQC up to a capped level of the damage and the other to their private insurer for top-up cover losses. This was inefficient and frustrating for our customers. We are building on the improvements from the Kaikoura quake in 2016 where insurers worked as our partners, which created efficiencies, avoided double handling and most importantly, a much easier experience for claimants in an extremely stressful time.”
Daly says the stronger partnership with the insurers is one of several vital relationships EQC has strengthened in recent times.
“We are much more in tune with central and local government agencies, so we can better support communities as part of the new Resilience Strategy for Natural Hazard Risk Reduction. We want to give them access to leading EQC-funded disaster research, to help local communities prepare for the next earthquake, flood or volcanic eruption.”
Daly says EQC has made other improvements to its internal systems as well as building more capacity and expertise, but points out the most vital recommendation around EQC’s role in a disaster, needs to be the top priority.
“In her very first recommendation, Dame Silvia notes that ‘Greater clarity of EQC’s role is urgently required, as is a clear mandate and mechanism for its post-disaster operations.’ Gaining this clarity is fundamental to making further improvements and we are working closely with Government agencies to set out exactly who does what when another disaster strikes.”
Daly says that EQC is also in the process of creating a broad-reaching advisory group to help guide its work into the future.
“We have apologised to the people of Canterbury for letting them down in their time of need and have accepted their feedback and recommendations.
“There are no original claims left from the original earthquakes, but customers do have the right to make further claims when any damage was missed or under-assessed, and we are continuing to provide services for these customers. Resolving Canterbury claims continues to be a top priority for EQC, and we are proud of the huge strides we have made in recent times.”
“EQC in 2020 is a completely different organisation than we were in August 2010, and we are confident we are now better set up to help all New Zealanders to prepare for and recover from the next natural disaster whenever that might happen.”