Making a claim following a natural disaster will be easier following the passing of the third and final reading of the Natural Hazards Insurance Bill in Parliament yesterday.
“This Government is improving the Earthquake Commission scheme, so in future New Zealanders don’t have to go through the same traumatic experiences as the people of Canterbury,” said Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission (EQC), Deborah Russell.
“This is also relevant in the wake of the recent floods in Auckland and wide-spread damage caused by Cyclone Gabrielle.”
From July, the Natural Hazards Insurance Act 2003 (NHI Act) replaces and simplifies the current Earthquake Commission Act 1993 and incorporates a number of the recommendations from Dame Silvia Cartwright’s 2020 Public Inquiry into the EQC.
“The NHI Act makes the rules for mixed and multi-use buildings clearer, it clarifies law relating to repairing buildings and land following a landslip or other land damage, and simplifies the excesses and calculations for retaining walls, bridges and culverts,” the Minister said.
“Our natural hazards insurance scheme supports us to have one of the world’s highest rates of residential property insurance. It is crucial New Zealanders can continue to get affordable insurance cover, and have their compensation paid as quickly as possible.
“Insurance is fundamental to helping communities recover after an event. Compensating policy owners for the damage caused by a natural hazard means they can repair their home and move on with their lives.”
A claimant code and a standing dispute resolution service will also come into effect, so future claimants can access support in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster.
“The Natural Hazards Insurance Act recognises that EQC’s mandate extends further than just helping people recover from earthquakes. In fact, its insurance scheme also covers storm, floods, landslips, volcanoes, tsunami and hydrothermal activity.”
“EQC will also transition to a new name – Toka Tū Ake – Natural Hazards Commission. Toka Tū Ake translates as ‘the foundation from which we stand strong together’ – acknowledging the organisation’s role supporting New Zealand to both prepare for and recover from natural hazards,” said Dr Russell.
Claimants will still lodge claims with their insurer to access entitlements via Toka tū Ake – Natural Hazards Commission following any event.
“The NHI Act will commence from 1 July 2024. It will not affect entitlements of any current claims, or any claims made prior to then,” Minister Russell said.