A streamlined process for handling the insurance claims of all homeowners with earthquake damaged homes or contents have been welcomed by IAG’s New Zealand Chief Executive Officer, Craig Olsen.
Mr Olsen said that the agreement on a new process for the settling of claims related to the recent Kaikoura earthquake, announced today by the Earthquake Commission (EQC) and the Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) was a huge step forward for the industry and represented an approach that IAG has been advocating for since 2012.
It will see private insurers, including IAG, lodge, assess and settle all personal home and contents claims, regardless of whether they are under or over EQC’s cap of $20,000 for contents and $100,000 for home damage, with the private insurers reimbursed by EQC for its liability following claims settlement.
The agreement will remove unnecessary duplication, claims handovers and provide a much better customer experience in many circumstances, Mr Olsen said.
“We are already on the ground with people in Kaikoura, Hanmer Springs/Waiau, Wellington, Nelson/Blenheim and Christchurch and have mobilised teams who are assessing the most affected properties in these areas first,” Mr Olsen said.
“We’ve established premises in Kaikoura to provide support and advice to residential customers and business owners there who have been dealing with the added challenge of being isolated for a considerable length of time due to damage to the main highway linking the area both north and south.
“This agreement provides us with the clarity to start working more extensively with our customers, prioritising those in most need in all the areas impacted to ensure they are supported and fully aware of their insurance entitlements, whether their claim is over or under the EQC cap.
“There are many complexities involved but taking lessons from the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010/11 on behalf of those who suffer damage in such events has been top of mind. Fundamental has been the intent to keep things as simple as possible, recognising both the scale of the event and its impact on individuals and families – many of whom find themselves in very vulnerable situations.
“The EQC deserves credit for its willingness to find a better way, within the terms of the Earthquake Act, to serve New Zealanders, and ICNZ deserves credit for helping to bring together the private insurance industry so that the claims settlement response is as consistent as possible,” Mr Olsen said.
What does this mean for IAG customers?
IAG is New Zealand’s leading general insurer, providing cover for close to 500,000 homes in the areas affected across its family of brands – AMI, Lantern, Lumley, NZI, State and our bank partners, ASB, BNZ, Westpac and The Cooperative Bank. To date IAG has had around 2,200 claims lodged directly, however, we expect this number to grow substantially as a result of today’s announcement.
Any claims already lodged with EQC will be passed onto IAG by EQC so there is no need for customers to lodge a separate claim. If customers have already contacted us there is no need to contact us again, however we will be making contact with all impacted customers ourselves to further explain this agreement.
“This is a great outcome for our customers that will enable us to assess, manage and settle our customers’ claims more efficiently,” Mr Olsen said.
How will IAG respond?
IAG has maintained a team dedicated to the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010/11. It had planned to retain a core of experienced personnel who could apply lessons learned from the Canterbury response to other major events. That team will now be built up more quickly to cater for the larger volume of lower cost claims that will be handled though this agreement.
IAG has already set up four teams of dedicated earthquake claims managers based in Christchurch. They are experienced in earthquake response, and are supported by teams of loss adjusters, engineers and assessors.
It is expected that more than 100 extra people will be employed bringing total numbers focusing solely on earthquake claims settlements up to around 150.
IAG has established a presence to assess and manage claims, with hubs in Kaikoura, Hanmer Springs, Wellington, Blenheim and Christchurch. These teams have already begun the process of assessing and settling claims.
We will be contacting all of our customers to inform them of the change to the process, and what this means for them.