EQC likely to fork out cash as quake-hit Kaikoura residents wait for action video

Paul Guthrie at his badly damaged home in Kaikoura. He reckons it is a "write off".
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

Paul Guthrie at his badly damaged home in Kaikoura. He reckons it is a "write off".

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) is unlikely to replicate its home repair programme in Kaikoura and surrounding towns hit hard by this month's earthquake.

It will pay homeowners cash instead.

Thousands of claims following the February 2011 Canterbury earthquake were resolved through the Canterbury Home Repair Programme.

Earthquake Commission chief executive Ian Simpson announced earlier this year that 47 per cent of the agency's jobs ...
EMMA ALLEN/FAIRFAX NZ

Earthquake Commission chief executive Ian Simpson announced earlier this year that 47 per cent of the agency's jobs would be cut.

The EQC and Fletcher Building-managed programme controversially controlled the repair process for homeowners with less than $100,000 of damage.

EQC expects 50,000 claims from November 14's magnitude-7.8 earthquake and still has about 10,000 jobs, such as complaints about repairs and land claims, to resolve in Canterbury.

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Tony Guthrie is waiting for a visit from EQC. He says his land is moving more every day.
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

Tony Guthrie is waiting for a visit from EQC. He says his land is moving more every day.

It has three staff in Kaikoura, two in Ward and two in Waiau.

On Monday, EQC customer and claims general manager Trish Keith poured cold water on the possibility of a new home repair programme being established.

"EQC is currently planning to settle cash settle building, land and contents claims. There are currently no plans to run a managed repair programme as in Canterbury," she said.

EQC traditionally cash settled claims before and after the Canterbury earthquake.

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"There were very specific reasons for running a managed repair programme in Christchurch, where there was significant earthquake damage to built-up, urban areas," Keith said.

Tony Guthrie's Kaikoura property backs onto Lyell Creek, where the land is decimated.

He is still waiting for a visit from EQC.

"I suppose it's the process you've got to go through, but you want to sort of know where you are and what you're doing," Guthrie said.

"I'm waiting for an inspection on what they're going to do."

The earth around his home was still moving, he said.

"I've been up there most days . . . the cracks are getting bigger and bigger every day.

"We're visibly noticing different rises in the ground and cracks opening and everything every day.

"It's a write-off. That's my opinion," Guthrie said.

Two doors down the road, his brother, Paul Guthrie, had his home inspected by EQC on Friday. He believed it was beyond saving.

"They were doing their estimate on whether it was under the $100,000 [cap] or over it.

"It's completely written off, it's split in half," he said.

Guthrie was living with his daughter for the time being.

Keith said EQC was in ongoing negotiations with the Insurance Council and private insurers to agree on a coordinated approach for assessing and settling claims following the magnitude-7.8 earthquake.

"One of the lessons EQC has learned from Canterbury is that taking the time now to plan will lead to better outcomes for customers," she said.

EARTHQUAKE COMMISSION'S WORKLOAD

EQC expected 50,000 claims from theKaikoura earthquake and had received 10,000 by Friday.

It still has thousands of land and dwelling claims to settle six years after the February 2011 Canterbury earthquake.

EQC received more than 460,000 claims for 166,000 buildings in Canterbury, which equated to a spend of $9.4 billion.

Keith said by the end of October, EQC had about 5000 remedial requests to resolve in Canterbury, but expected this to reduce to about 3500 by the end of 2016.

presentation released under the Official Information Act showed the organisation's "preference" was to resolve remedial work, where the first round of repairs were botched, by cash settlement.

EQC had 36 first time managed repairs to complete and 120 first time cash settlements to be finalised, Keith said.

In addition to the dwelling claims, EQC had 3647 land damage claims to resolve in Canterbury as of October 25.

It had an extra 400 claims for visible land damage to settle, having resolved 49,000 so far.

A spokesman said EQC was reviewing progress regarding its land settlement target, but some of its work would likely spill into 2017.

The Crown has not received any land damage payments for the red-zoned plots it acquired after the February 2011 earthquake.

EQC planned to push ahead with major staff cuts, which were announced earlier in 2016. 

 - Stuff

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