Neighbours urged to share quake info

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 05:00 20/06/2013

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The Earthquake Commission is hoping to tap claimants' neighbourly spirit as it tackles some of its most complex cases.

About 25,000 EQC customers live in multi-dwelling buildings, such as units or flats, where common building elements, such as shared floors and party walls, can complicate individual claims.

The commission is encouraging shared owners to co-operate with neighbours, to allow for sharing "generic" information and to appoint a lead insurer.

The claimants are being contacted by the EQC with details of the new process, which has the backing of insurance companies.

EQC national operations manager Barry Searle said the strategy involved site assessments and the "unravelling" of past issues to allow a combined repair strategy or the distribution of over-cap payments.

Previously, claims could be a mix of over and under-cap payments and cash repair payouts under $15,000 all within the same building.

Multiple insurance companies acting for different over-cap owners then risked reaching unworkable solutions, such as demolishing one unit while repairing an adjoining one.

Matters were further complicated when there was no body corporate to act as a single point of negotiation.

"The insurance company gets a full picture of the building, gets an overview of what's happened to the building, but the individual policy details [remain] confidential to that person," Searle said.

"We're trying to resolve all the complexities and have all the answers ready for how we approach it today."

Stephen Collins, a representative of the trust that owns one of the properties in an eight-unit block in Merivale assessed under the new system, said the process had been "surprisingly good".

The block was a total constructive loss, but four different insurance companies were involved and there was no body corporate.

Communication between the owners was crucial, he said.

An Insurance Council spokesman said a lead insurer would be appointed at each site.

The criteria was "still being worked through", but it was likely the insurer with the most exposure would take charge.

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- The Press

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