Private insurers plan to have made the majority of cash settlement offers by the end of the year for all commercial and residential claims.   The 14 November earthquake was not only the most complex of its type, but gave rise to one of the most expensive insured events anywhere in the world in 2016.   In the residential space, claims span the country with the concentration of high volume-low value claims being in Wellington and Christchurch and high value-low volume claims in the top half of the South Island.  We expect the final number of claims to be close to 38,000, so there is a significant challenge in terms of assessment. “Insurers are working hard to ensure the recovery of communities happens as quickly as possible.  Across the private insurance industry, not including EQC, a total of 330 insurance claims and customer service staff are fully focused on settling claims.  This includes about 170 assessors/loss adjusters with the majority working in the Hurunui, K?ikoura and Marlborough districts” said Insurance Council Chief Executive Tim Grafton.  “The MOU struck between EQC and insurers makes for a more streamlined approach and that combined with a largely sum insured and cash settlement environment has the ingredients for a relatively quick recovery”, he said.  These timeframes are broad as each insurer will be communicating with their customers directly about their individual situation.  Large complex commercial claims and domestic managed repairs will take longer than year end but this applies to only a small proportion of claims.   “Insurers are committed under the Fair Insurance Code to prioritise vulnerable customers with reference to guidelines we helped develop with the Human Rights Commission.  We are also prioritising the most damaged properties and the Code requires our members to update their customers every 20 days on the progress of their claim”, he said.  Through a series of community meetings, direct customer communication and publicity through local councils, people have been urged to contact their private insurer directly if they need temporary accommodation, have weather tight problems or heating issues so that they can discuss the best approach.  Emergency repairs and heating will come off people’s Sum Insured amount but temporary accommodation is a separate benefit under most home and content policies.

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