Brownlee loses patience with insurance companies

MICHAEL WRIGHT
Last updated 16:04 26/07/2012
gerry brownlee std
Don Scott
FRUSTRATED: Gerry Brownlee has ''lost his patience'' with insurance companies.

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Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has ''lost his patience'' with insurance companies, pointing his finger at the private sector for holding up quake-damage settlements.

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) today released geotechnical reports for land damage from the major quakes, and last week handed another 2000 claims to insurers.

The moves meant insurance companies had no excuses for settlement delays, Brownlee said.

''It should remove some of the various excuses that have been put forward for little action occurring in some cases,'' he said.

''I think it's time for us to stop talking about the problems, recognise the Government has stepped up ... EQC has stepped up ... and [the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority] has stepped up.

''Now the private sector needs to do the sort of things that the private sector claims it can do so particularly well.''

Talk of five to eight-year time frames for settlement or repairs was unacceptable, he said, as was blaming the EQC-led drilling programme for delays.

''I've been hearing lot from people saying 'My insurer has told me nothing can happen to my property until the EQC drilling programme is complete'. That's rubbish,'' he said.

''I've lost my patience for understanding their difficulty. Things are taking too long and I don't believe that EQC is the problem.''

The commission is due to complete the first stage of its site-specific geotech drilling programme this month.

It is working on a collaborative programme with insurance companies but has yet to strike a deal.

EQC chief executive Ian Simpson said the commission expected to settle all claims, including apportionment-related ones, within nine months.

The EQC was working with insurers on a ''broader-modelled approach'' to apportionment claims, Simpson said, but it was proving ''really technically difficult''.

"In the meantime, we're pushing ahead with our manual approach," he said.

Apportionment occurs when a homeowner makes multiple claims to the EQC for quake damage across different quakes, each of which they are entitled to up the commission cap of $100,000.

Damage must be allocated to each claim before it can be determined whether extra, private insurance cover is needed.

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