Bigger the claim, the worse people feel

MICHAEL WRIGHT
Last updated 05:00 08/09/2012

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The bigger your property claim with the Earthquake Commission (EQC), the less happy you are and the less likely your repairs have been done.

A Press survey of Christchurch residents' satisfaction with the EQC has revealed a gulf in the happiness of high and low-damage property claimants.

It showed more people with high-value claims felt they could not move on with their lives, and numbers supplied by the EQC showed few of those jobs had been completed.

Asked if they felt they could move on, survey respondents with property claims, predictably, felt less so than those without.

Of claimants, those with property damage valued at more than $50,000 - the midpoint of the commission's coverage - felt much less able to move on (60 per cent said they could) than those with claims less than that amount (83 per cent).

Over-$50,000 claimants also recorded much lower positives. Just 15 per cent "strongly" agreed they could move on with life, compared with 62 per cent of under-$50,000 claimants.

The EQC has made no secret of the fact that properties at the upper end of its repair programme have not been a priority.

Figures released to The Press under the Official Information Act show that by July just 1448 properties with more than $50,000 damage had been fixed, compared with 16,986 with under $50,000 damage.

Commission chief executive Ian Simpson said it was often more efficient to do lower-value repairs first.

"As you would expect, we are completing lower-value repairs more quickly because more serious damage is over EQC's [$100,000] cap," he said.

"Lower-value repairs take less time to complete and there's a lot less preliminary work needed to set up the repair, and in TC3 [technical category 3], drilling is required to determine the right repairs for foundations."

The EQC is prioritising the apportionment of claims over $80,000 and is committed to completing 100 repairs a month for vulnerable people.

Among all survey respondents, the middle-aged (30 to 59) felt the least able to move on with their lives and young people (18 to 29) the most.

Men (76 per cent) felt slightly more able to move on than women (70 per cent), and people with dependent children felt more constrained than those without children and empty-nesters.

TC3, or green-blue, respondents - those most likely to need stronger, more expensive foundations in their homes - were almost a 50-50 split between those who felt they could and could not move on with their lives.

About 31 per cent "strongly" disagreed they could move on, while only 22 per cent thought "strongly" that they could.

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The Press will continue to publish survey results next week.

Tuesday's edition will look at quake-hit residents' satisfaction levels with private insurers.

- Canterbury

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