It was no surprise to me at all to read the article about EQC being bullied by angry homeowners. (See http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/8372157/EQC-workers-bullied-by-angry-homeowners). A man walked into EQR Hub and went bananas and who can blame him! I am amazed that the population has taken so much pain and anguish on the chin for so long. Perhaps that’s all about to change!
“We have 20 hubs around the city and we’ve had to make the fences slightly higher, put in exit doors for staff and the reception counters are higher now too, so people can’t jump over them easily“, said David Petersen the Fletcher EQR general manager. (‘EQC Workers Bullied’, The Weekend Press, Saturday and Sunday, March 2-3, 2013 by Georgina Stylianou). There have been plenty of other incidents too – but these of course have not been reported. I noticed with interest on National Radio news about a week ago that Christchurch police officers will be wearing tasers (stun gun) on their belts, the first city in the country. Christchurch is getting a lot of firsts these days- charter schools, tasers- it’s looking more like ‘disaster capitalism’ everyday! Naomi Klein (author of the “Shock Doctrine”) would have a field day here! The reason for the new policy had something to do with an apparent defect with the car storage units that normally house the guns. Really I found myself thinking…
After the September 4th earthquake of 2010, EQC had a permanent staff of 22, as time has gone on the staff numbers have swelled to at one point 20,000. Since then the staff numbers have slowly been diminishing. This in itself is inexplicable in light of the numbers of claims unresolved. The EQC permanent staff did a reasonable job immediately post September 2010. Two of those permanent staff assessed my home after the earthquakes and declared it a rebuild. In the two and a half years since that time I have had five separate visits from EQC, after every visit we have watched the quantum of damage move steadily downward – at one point an assessment of less than $100,000.00 worth of damage. We have also watched with interest as the quality of the staff sent to the property has diminished and the amount of time spent on site has diminished dramatically too.
Unsurprisingly the Ombudsman has been swamped with official complaints and inquiries in relation to EQC in the past financial year. (See http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch-earthquake-2011/7740442/EQC-woes-swamp-Ombudsmen). Some have complained to the Institution of Professional Engineers over “incompetent EQC assessors who had admitted to having a maximum five days of training”. The stories abound! (See http://eqctruths.wordpress.com/ ).
EQC has done a lousy job explaining how apportionment works in practice, why it’s so difficult and why it’s taking so long. The state-owned insurer owes its customers far better information than has been provided thus far. (See http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/blogs/where-theres-a-will/6894833/C-mon-EQC-explain-apportionment). On top of this the private insurers use EQC’s slow resolution of claims as an excuse not to start settling individual’s claims. P.S. there’s nothing in your policy that states that you have to wait for EQC - hold your insurers to account- their relationship with EQC has nothing to do with the policy terms you have with your private insurer.
Amazingly the Earthquake Commission chief executive Ian Simpson has received a pay rise of about $70,000 in the past year, despite the Commissions failing to meet its customer satisfaction targets. (See http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/7981614/EQC-chief-gets-a-70-000-pay-rise). Then there’s the EQC mediation service which seems to have amounted to nothing. (See http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/7892022/Help-to-resolve-EQC-disputes). Then there are all the stories of corrupt dealings at the hands of various assessors. (See http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch-earthquake-2011/7962480/EQC-backs-arrogant-engineer). Despite the genuine complaints EQC senior management continues to protect the offenders.
We are yet to hear about the incidents taking place in some of the private insurance offices around the City but no doubt there are plenty and it will only be a question of time before they start surfacing.
All I can say to EQC and the private insurance industry is ‘be warned’. You have left the population of Canterbury dangling for the last two and a half years and people are beginning to say enough is enough. People are finally twigging that what is taking place in Christchurch is a ‘set-up’. There is no need for an insurance claim to take two and a half years to settle. Enough with the excuses about ‘an unprecedented event’. Look at the settlement statistics from the US and Australia. (See http://thechristchurchfiasco.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/the-insurance-industry-strikes-again-after-hurricane-sandy-but-the-americans-are-doing-something-about-it/). Cantabrians are being given the run around and we’re not talking about just a couple of hundred people- but thousands (See http://thechristchurchfiasco.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/christchurch-numbers-are-staggering-guest-post-by-herman-meijburg/). Why? the answer is simple - because there are no protections in place for policyholders in this country. I know plenty of people whose homes need demolishing and could have been cash settled 18 months ago yet insurers keep them dangling on – the financial rewards of delaying the claim are just too enticing.
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