EQC looking to cash settle remaining remedial work

EQC prefers thousands of homeowners still on its books accepted cash settlements and manage their own repairs.
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

EQC prefers thousands of homeowners still on its books accepted cash settlements and manage their own repairs.

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) wants Canterbury customers to accept cash settlements, leaving homeowners to fix shoddy repair work, Labour says.

A July presentation, released to Labour under the Official Information Act, shows EQC wants to resolve as much remedial work as possible by the end of 2016.

Its "preference", according to the presentation, was to do so by cash settlement. EQC would ensure the process was "as easy as possible".

Labour's Canterbury spokeswoman Megan Woods says EQC is "abdicating its responsibilities" in Canterbury.
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Labour's Canterbury spokeswoman Megan Woods says EQC is "abdicating its responsibilities" in Canterbury.

Labour's Canterbury spokeswoman, Megan Woods, said EQC's preference to cash settle customers whose homes required remedial work showed it was "abdicating its responsibilities".

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"I think there is a responsibility to see this through," she said.

According to the presentation, EQC had 954 remedial jobs in its contractor portfolio as at July 5. These are where the original contractor would return to a property if workmanship was been found to be faulty

By the same date, 502 remedial jobs were in the fast-track queue, where remedial work was minor and could be repaired relatively quickly. In addition, work was in progress on 660 jobs.

EQC had a total of 959 jobs in its standard queue, which required an EQC estimator to visit the site and assess the repair in the first instance. Just over 1200 jobs were in progress.

In addition, 1707 sub-floor remedial jobs were in progress, 451 were resolved and in 167 cases the homeowners were uncontactable.

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According to the presentation, EQC planned to "encourage" customers to consider cash settlement, so they could manage when work was done on their home.

The alternative was to remain in the repair queue through until 2017.

Woods accepted for some homeowners cash settlement would be the best option, but for "a lot" of homeowners it would not be.

Their had anecdotal suggestions that EQC was leaning towards cash settling customers.

"It's disappointing to see it in writing," Woods said.

EQC's head of Canterbury dwelling settlement, Michael Price, said EQC introduced a streamlined process for handling new remedial requests received from customers after August 1, 2016.

The process aimed to provide "faster claims resolution", he said.

The presentation showed a principle of the process was that EQC's "preferred position" was to cash settle, unless the customer "actively requests to opt in".

As a default, any element missed in a scope of repairs was to be cash settled. 

"The new process is designed to speed up the processing of remedial requests by reducing the need for assessment visits, and having customers provide us with information such as photographs and builders' quotes," Price said.

"We will also be asking these customers if they would prefer a cash settlement or managed repair."

The changes were introduced, he said, following "positive customer feedback" regarding the processes to manage claims after the February 2016 earthquake.

Price conceded cash settling would not be the best option for all customers.

Customers had the opportunity for a managed repair during 2017, he said.

 - Stuff

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