Claimant waits as EQC fails to deliver

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 05:00 26/12/2013

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A Christmas gift Richard McPhail was expecting the Earthquake Commission (EQC) to deliver never arrived.

The Phillipstown homeowner said he had been assured through a letter from the EQC seven months ago the claim on his multi-unit property would be resolved by the end of the year.

However, he has been left frustrated by another missed EQC deadline. There had been no correspondence since that letter, McPhail said.

The EQC this month conceded it would not meet its 2013 deadline for repairs on "serious" properties.

Earlier this year, it had written to the owners of 26,000 properties believed to fall into the multi-unit category - mostly buildings with shared walls.

Many of these were multi-unit buildings that required "complex engineering solutions" to advance repair, a spokesman said.

"Obviously it's complicated - but I didn't make the promise," McPhail said. "The transparency and communication with the multi-unit dwellings is non-existent."

His property is in a block of five units, but he said the damage was not serious or complex.

Each claim was under cap and the owners were insured by the same company through their body corporate.

Repairs would be cosmetic and estimated at between $15,000 to $25,000, he said. "There's nothing complicated about that. They haven't done the easy stuff."

EQC national operations manager Barry Searle said the commission was contacting people identified as multi-unit building customers and "providing them with more information on how we are reviewing and progressing claims".

The EQC has cash settled 3650 multi-unit claims and repaired 3302.

"The complexities that surround repairs to dwelling units with shared structural elements has meant that each property has required individual review in order to assess whether the building repairs are dependent on the repair of their neighbour and/or the building they live in," he said.

A "repair dependency" could mean greater involvement with neighbours or insurers, which meant a more in-depth review was needed before the claim could progress.

This could often result in a re-inspection of the entire building, Searle said.

"EQC is continuing to identify multi-unit building claims that either do not have the complexities involved to settle or the complexities have been resolved.

In these cases, EQC is settling claims, either by repair or cash settlement," he said.

Insurance Council spokesman Samson Samasoni said for over cap multi-unit claims, insurers had developed two pilot programmes - for building repairs and land remediation.

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It meant one insurer taking the lead on the repair strategy.

"We're confident that these pilots will help unlock potential solutions for addressing the multi-unit issue but it will take some time for all parties to fully settle these complex claims," he said.

- The Press

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