Government to review EQC

MICHAEL WRIGHT
Last updated 10:28 18/09/2012

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A Government review of the Earthquake Commission will not examine the body's performance in the Canterbury earthquakes.

The Treasury will lead the review of the Earthquake Commission Act 1993, it was announced today.

The review would ''draw on the lessons learnt'' in the Canterbury quakes and other events in the commission's 20-year history.

That will include the extent of EQC cover and how much it costs.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said the review was forward-looking.

''It is not intended to provide a management audit of the commission's performance in Canterbury,'' he said.

''[It] will not affect the processing or entitlements of current Earthquake Commission claims.''

The review will focus on:

- What types of property the commission insures, including the structure and extent of EQC cover.
- How the commission prices its insurance.
- The institutional structure and design of the commission, including its roles.
- The financial management of the Crown's risk exposure and how it should be financed.

''[It] is also an opportunity to consider possible changes consistent with other government initiatives,'' Brownlee said.

He said the review would ensure the EQC supported the insurance industry, minimise Crown risk on private property damage and reduce ''the potential for property owners to experience socially unacceptable distress'' in a natural disaster.

Finance Minister Bill English said the Canterbury quakes had been the commission's biggest test.

''In light of the lessons learnt from the earthquakes, the Government will review disaster insurance arrangements to look at where changes to existing policy settings are desirable,'' he said.

The EQC has received more than 414,000 building claims and 93,000 land claims from the Canterbury quakes.

It has paid out more than $3.3 billion and its total bill is expected to be $12.2b.

The Treasury will consult other agencies and consider homeowner feedback, and report back with proposed changes next March.

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