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Christchurch claims service defends impartiality

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The Greater Christchurch Claims Resolution Service (GCCRS) has defended its impartiality after a high-profile commentator advised homeowners against using it.

“GCCRS’ impartiality from insurers is crucial to how we operate, and this has been built in to all processes,” Director Darren Wright told insuranceNEWS.com.au. “We’ve put homeowners at the centre of the process by helping them access the best resolution pathway for their case, and connecting them with the technical advice and support they need.”

The New Zealand Government established the free service in October to help fast-track outstanding Christchurch quake-related claims.

But surveyor, planner and civil engineer Adrian Cowie says the service is not impartial because it is funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), the Earthquake Commission (EQC) and government-owned Southern Response.

“The GCCRS appears to be yet another attempt by the Government, the EQC and Southern Response to settle insurance claims while ignoring their statutory and contractual obligations,” he said.

Mr Wright says homeowners are provided with case managers to help them through the process, and these do not represent any insurer or EQC. Some 365 homeowners have signed up to the service since October 9, and 22 of those cases have been resolved, he says.

GCCRS has rejected concerns over an MBIE document on the repairing and rebuilding of houses affected by quakes, saying it is a “general guidance document only and does not form the basis of settlement under the insurance policy or under the EQC Act”.

Having Southern Response and the EQC on the GCCRS advisory panel is key to holding the services to account for delivery, Mr Wright says.