Brownlee to consider insurance role

PALOMA MIGONE
Last updated 12:10 18/07/2012
Brownlee
DEAN KOZANIC
GERRY BROWNLEE: Will consider a Christchurch City Council call for an insurance advocacy role.

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The Government will look at ways to help homeowners locked in dispute with their insurance companies, including the Christchurch City Council's suggested advocacy service.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee today told a parliamentary committee that he knew people were having difficulties unlocking their insurance payments.

He said he had received a letter from the city council on the issue yesterday, but had yet to read it.

The council last week voted unanimously to ask Brownlee to urgently set up an insurance tribunal and advocacy service in Christchurch, after listening to pleas from ratepayers.

''We will certainly take a look at what they were suggesting and then look at all the implications,'' Brownlee said.

''But people need to understand that not all insurance policies are equal, and therefore the insurer's response in any case will be different because it's driven by what's in the policy.''

Brownlee said the Government needed to work out whether people were finding they were not being treated as well as others by insurers or whether they had solvable problems.

''I think once we are clearer about that, then we will be able to say something more definitive,'' he said.

''In the end, you are also potentially giving people financial advice, and that has got its implications.''

Brownlee said the Government needed to ensure anything set up did not mean taxpayers would assume more liabilities.

''If there is a role that can be determined that will move things more quickly, we are interested in that,'' he said.

''If there is a role which means that we end up taking liabilities that rightly belong to others, then we are not interested in that.'' 

The council had heard from technical category 3 residents frustrated by the delaying tactics employed by insurance companies dealing with their claims.

Cr Glenn Livingstone pushed to set up a tribunal, saying private insurers were making it difficult for people to move on with their lives.

Mayor Bob Parker suggested the council go to Brownlee, as one of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority's responsibilities was to ensure there was an effective insurance market.

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