Insurance companies will work with the Earthquake Commission (EQC) to jointly assess some quake-damaged properties and overcome differences that have seen the two sides "not completely aligned".
The commission said yesterday it would co-operate with private insurers where there were "significant differences" in what each party assessed as quake damage.
Problems have arisen on properties one party classifies as a repair job and the other a rebuild, and over apportionment, where the commission's $100,000 cap for building damage and $20,000 for contents is reinstated for each major quake.
Six two-person teams will be assigned to work with insurance companies and inspect properties together.
EQC Canterbury events manager Reid Stiven said joint assessments would happen where "the differences are such that more information is needed before both parties can agree".
"There is no set criteria for the level of difference between EQC and insurer estimates of damage, but these typically involve cases with disparities of tens of thousands of dollars, or where the outcome of a claim will depend on an agreed settlement," he said.
About 700 properties will be included in the scheme, expected to finish by the end of the month.
AMI Insurance earthquake recovery executive manager Peter Rose said the repair versus rebuild disagreement arose "more than both parties would like it to".
"Very often there are quite fundamental differences," he said. "Our policy says we will reinstate the property `as new'. There's not much wriggle room there. [The EQC Act] says `substantially the same as when new'. `Substantially the same as when new' isn't the same as `as new'."
One damaged wall in a property could send EQC and AMI in opposite directions, Rose said.
"They could say `We could repair a cracked slab; that's substantially the same as as new'. Our policy response is `is the slab cracked when it's new? No'. Therefore we have to demolish the house. Our two sets of rules are not completely aligned."
Huge differences in commission and private insurer assessments were understandable, he said.
"We are talking about humans who are making assessments and ... it's possible they simply have a difference of opinion," he said. "I think the principal issue each party was dealing with in the first place was throughput – getting through the assessments and getting decisions to customers so there's opportunities for them to make decisions to get on with their lives."