People whose homes have been damaged by a natural disaster will now have access to a new service to assist and support them if their insurance claims are held up, Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Duncan Webb, has announced.
Dr Webb said that from today, the New Zealand Claims Resolution Service (NZCRS) will be providing expert support to homeowners with insurance claims after natural disasters to avoid disputes, resolve issues and ensure claims are settled as quickly as possible.
The NZCRS will be a nationwide service modelled on the Greater Christchurch Claims Resolution Service (GCCRS) and Residential Advisory Service (RAS) that helped to achieve resolution with insurance companies.
“Dealing with a damaged home can be extremely stressful for homeowners and it is important that they have access to the support that they need,” the Minister said.
“The Government is working swiftly to get the new service up and running to support homeowners whose properties have been affected by the recent extreme weather events in Nelson, Northland, Auckland, Hawkes Bay, Tairawhiti and the Coromandel.”
For those impacted by the Auckland flooding, the service will have case managers on the ground at community support hubs from today, Minister Webb said.
For those affected by Cyclone Gabrielle, support will be available locally as soon as possible, he said.
“This kind of service was first used in response to the Canterbury Earthquakes to provide free advice to homeowners.”
“Together the GCCRS and RAS have successfully provided information and services to over 10,000 homeowners. Satisfaction surveys show that 90% of respondents say they would recommend GCCRS to others. So we are expanding a service that worked well in Christchurch to make it a permanent nationwide service for all forms of natural hazards
“Early intervention before things go wrong, and independent technical and legal advice are key.”
The new national service will now make this support available to all homeowners affected by natural disasters, he said.
Funding for the service is currently provided through MBIE. It will provide homeowners with case management support, access to legal, technical and wellbeing services tailored to individual and whānau needs.
“The first port of call is always to work things through with the insurer in the first instance, but if you get stuck or need support with unresolved claims, contact this new service.”
“We know this service was a gamechanger in Christchurch and we are scaling it up across the country,” Dr Webb said.