EQC does U-turn over furnishings

22:20, Nov 10 2011

The Earthquake Commission's unpopular and unpublicised decision to suspend payments on carpets and drapes in Canterbury has been reversed.

The commission quietly put curtains and drapes claims on hold in mid October – at the time it was urging those with contents claims to provide a schedule of contents so they could be cleared by Christmas.

The suspension had now been lifted, EQC claims manager Gail Kettle confirmed yesterday.

She said that this week the EQC board approved the continuation of settling carpet and drapes claims for houses earmarked for demolition.

Kettle said about 2200 claims were affected by the suspension, although the claimants might have been paid for other contents losses.

Kettle said the commission realised people had been concerned by the suspension but claimants who had submitted all relevant information by October 28 would get paid by Christmas.

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"Those ones that we put on hold, we're going to try and get them resolved in the next few weeks."

Between mid October and Wednesday, the commission closed 28,000 contents claims.

"We have actually been getting on and sorting through these claims and paying them, or closing them if the customer decides not to proceed."

Kettle said she would have liked the suspension to have been resolved more quickly, and if she had known it would drag on for weeks it might have been publicised.

"But our actual undertaking is to pay people by Christmas and nothing has changed," she said.

"We don't tell people which claims we're prioritising necessarily, or how we're managing our processes – our promise is to pay by Christmas and that remains our promise."

The payments suspension, based on a legal opinion sought in August, questioned whether the commission should pay claims for undamaged carpets and drapes in houses that were demolished, and when payment should be made.

The EQC board resolved on Wednesday that those claims would be paid as a "constructive loss", because it involved an action related to the earthquake.

The Press