Protesters confront PM over EQC delays

 radionz.co.nz  2/15/2018 3:19:35 AM 

Nearly seven years on from the Christchurch earthquake, some residents with quake-damaged homes today protested the thousands of unresolved earthquake insurance claims.

Residents with quake damaged homes protest thousands of unresolved earthquake insurance claims.

Residents with quake damaged homes protest thousands of unresolved earthquake insurance claims. Photo: RNZ / Logan Church

About 40 people have gathered outside the Christchurch Art Gallery, where the Prime Minister was attending a launch.

Protest organiser Ali Jones said there were still many people in Christchurch who had no control over their lives as they waited for their insurance and Earthquake Commission (EQC) claims to be settled.

She said the number of unsettled claims did not appear to be substantially reducing - with the number of claims in litigation at 521 and growing.

"Insurers also report more cases being handed to them ... from EQC and Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Megan Woods has recently revealed that 3000 EQC claims remain unresolved."

At Labour's election launch last August, the now-Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had vowed to settle remaining earthquake claims quickly and cheaply, as well as launch a royal commission of inquiry into EQC and set up a tribunal to hear claims issues, Ms Jones said.

However, affected homeowners had not heard much from the new government and there were other things that could be done to improve the situation, she said.

Jacinda Ardern speaks to protesters in Christchurch.

Jacinda Ardern speaks to protesters in Christchurch. Photo: RNZ / Logan Church

Ms Ardern spoke to the protesters and said the government was working as quickly as it could to help those affected.

"The focus for us is trying to make sure your cases are settled, because seven years ... I absolutely agree, everyone will agree ... is not good enough, and the fact that there are thousands of these cases is not good enough."

She understood that those with unresolved claims felt frustrated, she said.

EQC Minister Megan Woods told the protesters the Earthquake Commission would be reporting back to her at the end of the month as to how they were going to get claims settled in a way that met the governments expectations.

A tribunal to hear claims issues could not be set up before the May Budget, when they would make a bid for funding, Dr Woods said

"May is the time when we get to put new money into things and we've got that budget bid into the process now," she said.

"We've also begun the work on the independent inquiry into EQC," Dr Woods said.

Megan Woods speaks to residents with quake damaged homes who are protesting the thousands of unresolved earthquake insurance claims.

Megan Woods speaks to residents with quake damaged homes who are protesting the thousands of unresolved earthquake insurance claims. Photo: RNZ / Logan Church

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