Phantom EQC claims hold up house repairs

MICHAEL BERRY
Last updated 05:00 27/08/2012

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The Earthquake Commission is holding up what should be a straightforward under-cap home repair with phantom claims that it created and now can't close, and non-existent damage, a Canterbury woman says.

Ali Jones is managing her elderly mother's earthquake claim and says EQC seems to habitually get information wrong, and then it's almost impossible to get it corrected.

Her mother's Merivale home was damaged in the February quake only, and apart from contents claims and an emergency repair to fix the garage, that should be the sole claim, Jones said.

However, when she rang EQC for a progress update, she found there were five claims outstanding on the property.

She was "99 per cent sure" that the additional claims were not lodged by her or other family members.

A subsequent letter told her the claim was with the EQC assessment team because the damage needed to be apportioned across all events. It also said the work would be delayed while land drilling analysis was done because the house is on TC3 land and the house had "significant foundation damage".

Jones said that was infuriating because there was no damage to the foundations at all - which she had told EQC many times - and the cost was well under $100,000, so there should have been no impediment to getting on to repairing the house.

The "complexities" were entirely of EQC's making, she said.

"The fact that the letter I received . . . is a standard letter containing irrelevant information is insulting, confusing and is in conflict with the EQC statement of intent."

She rang EQC and asked it to shut down the additional claims. An EQC call centre staff member told her a request had been made to close them, but said it was unlikely it would be approved.

EQC said the claims were created online, with Jones listed as the contact, and the February claim related to most of the damage.

The case would be referred to the Fletcher EQR-led repair programme, but it would be delayed until drilling was done because of the foundation damage listed on the claim, EQC said.

Jones said EQC seemed unable to communicate or store information well.

"It doesn't matter how many times you try to correct information, it doesn't seem to get through.

"I think it's indicative of the huge flaws in the EQC system and they are not stepping back to fix them, they're bumbling on through."

EQC did not comment on Jones' difficulties with its information systems.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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