A Labour-led government would set up a special Earthquake
Court to speed up insurance claims for Cantabrians, and commit
funding for a share of the $20 million bill to repair the most
Labour leader David Cunliffe, in making announcements in
Christchurch this morning, also put insurance companies on
notice, saying if the industry did not work with the new
system in good faith, he would resort to "alternative
regulatory means" -- but he did not expand on what that might
Announcing the first tranche of the party's Canterbury
policy, Mr Cunliffe said the recovery had been "far too slow
and far too messy".
"Forty months after the February 2011 Christchurch
earthquake, there are still more than 10,000 insurance claims
that have not been settled."
As of May, 9755 'over-cap' insurance claims were still
pending settlement. There are a further 1508 claims where
people are undecided on their offers, and 1368 claimants who
are yet to receive an offer. EQC has a further 6273 claims
yet to be resolved.
This backlog was preventing families from moving on and
clogging up the courts, Mr Cunliffe said.
The Earthquake Court would be a special division of the
Christchurch District Court, and deal with insurance claims
of up to $1 million.
"Building on the experience of the current 'Earthquake List',
it will streamline the process and cut through a back-log of
cases," Mr Cunliffe said.
"To reduce the burden on families all costs, including
lawyers' costs and witness fees, will be paid for by the
If the case is successful, the Crown would recoup a
proportion of costs from insurance companies and EQC.
If the insurance industry obstructed the new process, he
would consider "alternative regulatory means" to ensure
Mr Cunliffe also announced a commitment to urgent work on
flood-vulnerable homes affected by the earthquakes.
EQC and Christchurch City Council are seeking a High Court
declaration on whether EQC should pay for flood mitigation
and prevention work.
"We will amend the law as needed to make it clear that EQC
must pay for earthquake damage in the form of land subsidence
or other geological changes," Mr Cunliffe said.
"We believe the government, through EQC, must pay its share
to help those families and communities who, because of the
earthquakes, are now having to deal with land that has sunk
and the subsequent flooding of their properties."
Labour would send army engineers to help with the work, he
The cost of protecting the 500 most flood-prone homes has
been put at $20 million, which would be split between the
Government and local authorities.
Discussions with the Christchurch City Council would
determine how the bill would be split.
Labour would also provide temporary housing for those whose
homes are being worked on.
"People in Canterbury should not be shivering through a
fourth winter waiting to have broken homes fixed or to
receive settlements that would allow them to move on with