New Zealand Law Society - Wide range of EQC reforms to speed up claims

Wide range of EQC reforms to speed up claims

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The Government has received a report outlining the need for a wide range of reforms to speed up the resolution of outstanding EQC claims, says EQC Minister Megan Woods.

The report was prepared by Christine Stevenson, Acting Chief Executive of New Zealand Customs, who was appointed Independent Ministerial Advisor to identify ways to breakthrough roadblocks in the settling of claims.

“The findings of this report confirm our reasons for commissioning the advice. It’s clear there’s a big job to do to get these claims moving faster, but the report contains some very good recommendations in here to improve the way EQC operates, get claims sorted and to help people move on with their lives,” says Megan Woods.

“The report reveals sizeable issues with staffing levels, data quality, record keeping and organisational culture and structure that are holding back resolution of claims.

Ms Woods says the recommendations fall into several broad categories: those EQC will have the responsibility for implementing; those Treasury and MBIE need to work with EQC on; and those that are more future-facing and need a whole-of-system approach.

“I have asked Dame Annette King, the interim board chair, to consider these recommendations right away and to swiftly implement appropriate measures,” she says.

These include:

  • Hiring more staff to reduce the caseloads for case managers so claimants can get more personal attention;
  • Establishing a Claimant Reference Group, comprised of claimants and community representative advocates who are paid for their time and expertise to advise EQC on how to improve the treatment of their customers;
  • Making any claimants’ EQC file available to them on request and introducing a standard for better communication with claimants;
  • Having a team of experienced EQC staff pull out all of the physical claims files relating to the remaining claims, and have the team sort, review, confirm and capture the key data to ensure it is correct;
  • Increasing Government monitoring to improve accountability.

“There are also broader recommendations which we will begin work on including looking to allow EQC more flexibility to make cash settlements above the EQC cap, which would then be recovered from the private insurers.”