Land-damage claims won't hold up rebuild

MICHAEL WRIGHT
Last updated 07:56 08/11/2012

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Land-damage claims should not delay the rebuild process, the Earthquake Commission and insurers say.

The commission made public this week its programme for assessing and settling the 70,000 claims for land damage from the earthquakes, which it aims to finish by the end of 2014.

One hundred two-person teams will start assessments in January, with most claims being settled within two months of being checked.

Cash settlement is the commission's preference.

Commission spokesman Iain Butler said land claims affecting rebuilds was "ultimately down to the insurers" but should not hold up the process.

"Unless there are specific circumstances that are physically preventing rebuilds, then the fact that you have land damage is . . . not a reason to hold up rebuilds."

Claims would be apportioned, but the process would be much simpler than with property claims, he said.

Area-wide land assessments clearly showed which quake caused which damage, and claims rested entirely with the EQC, he said.

IAG Canterbury recovery executive manager Dean MacGregor said any effect on the rebuild would be "pretty limited", but the commission's schedule was longer than expected.

"We understood that was about an 18-month process. Yesterday [the EQC] confirmed they expect to finish by the end of 2014."

Most land damage cases would not directly affect rebuilds, but homeowners may be asked to hand money over if they did, he said.

"There could be situations where the increased cost of those foundations is directly attributable to land damage and we may ask for the customer to contribute some [settlement] money."

Customers could also pass the management of their land claim to IAG if it was unsettled when work was due to start and let the insurer negotiate with the EQC.

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