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Consultation opens on new dispute resolution scheme

Consultation opens today on a new, independent dispute resolution scheme to support insured homeowners disputing decisions about their natural hazards insurance claims under the new Natural Hazards Insurance Act 2023 (NHI Act). The NHI Act comes into effect on 1 July 2024. 

“We understand how important it is for anyone affected by a natural disaster to get their insurance claim settled in a timely and fair manner, and to have some certainty,” says Toka Tū Ake EQC (the Commission) Chief Executive Tina Mitchell. 

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“We understand that there will be times when people do not agree with the settlement they receive, and it’s important that they have an independent and easy way to raise and resolve their dispute. We encourage people to engage with internal complaints processes in the first instance to resolve their disputes. They will also have the option to contact the external dispute resolution service provider. 

“While there are existing external mechanisms for resolving disputes now, this new scheme will provide a simpler, easy-to-navigate pathway, with direct support to homeowners right from the beginning of the dispute process.” 

The dispute resolution scheme will be available to help resolve disputes about decisions on whether a claim for natural hazard damage is valid, or the amount of the settlement. Claims for damage caused by natural hazard events on or after 1 July 2024 will be eligible to use the dispute resolution scheme. 

Fair Way Resolution is our preferred provider to deliver the external dispute resolution scheme. 

“We’re keen to hear from insured homeowners, as well as community members, groups and organisations,” says Mitchell.

“We are asking for feedback on the scheme rules and design, and whether there is anything else that needs to be included to ensure the process is fair and reasonable.” 

All submissions will be considered and will help inform the dispute resolution scheme. 

Background information and consultation guidance, the draft scheme rules, and details on how to make a submission are available on the Commission website.

Anyone can provide feedback by 5pm on Wednesday 6 March 2024 by using an online form, emailing, or posting a submission, or by phoning the Commission on 0800 DAMAGE. 

Background for journalists:

New Zealand homeowners with a current home insurance policy that includes fire insurance are covered by the Commission for natural hazard damage to their home and some of their land. Since mid-2021, the Commission has partnered with a range of insurers to manage natural hazard claims on its behalf, meaning customers have a single point of contact and can work directly through their insurer.

The NHI Act responds to the lessons learned from the Canterbury earthquake sequence, the Kaikōura earthquake and other natural hazard events, as well as the Public Inquiry into the Earthquake Commission completed in 2020. Recommendations from the inquiry included improving the experience of insured people when they make a claim for natural hazard damage. One step towards this is the new dispute resolution scheme. Parliament also wanted to align the Commission’s processes with other Crown entities.

The NHI Act outlines a range of ways we can further support insured homeowners including a Code of Insured Persons’ Rights, and developing new, independent ways to review how Code complaints are managed and to resolve disputes.

The NHI Act replaces the Earthquake Commission Act 1993. The Commission will continue to provide natural hazards insurance under the NHI Act and will be renamed Toka Tū Ake Natural Hazards Commission. Claims and any disputes for natural hazard damage occurring before 1 July 2024 will continue to be managed under the EQC Act.

For more information, please contact Hannah Grant on 027 406 3476 or via email