Changes to the Earthquake Commission's opt-out process that may force claimants to pay for repairs up front have been labelled "ridiculous".
The Press reported yesterday that changes to the EQC policy would mean that homeowners with $10,000 to $100,000 of damage would take on more responsibility if they opted out of the commission's repair process.
Contractors would invoice homeowners instead of the EQC, and claimants may have to pay them themselves if they could not be reimbursed by the EQC in time.
Canterbury Community Earthquake Recovery Network spokeswoman Leanne Curtis said the changes made "absolutely no sense". "I don't think that that's acceptable. It's just ridiculous," she said.
"The reason people opt out is to speed up their own process and be able to manage it themselves. The ongoing involvement of EQC around invoicing is dumb.
"It is another example of EQC and insurers changing the policy as they go along so the residents are always in a state of flux."
Carl Taylor, of Carl Taylor Homes, said it was unreasonable to expect homeowners to be project managers.
"They're not experienced to do that, and why would they be? The choice has been taken away from them."
He said contractors could be left out of pocket if they had to resolve a dispute over a job with a homeowner.
"We don't have that problem if we're dealing directly with EQC [because the commission inspected all opt-out work done]," he said.
"We would now potentially have to recoup that money for that invoice amount from the homeowner ... "
An EQC spokesman said it was not a requirement of claimants who opt out to meet the costs themselves. "Customers who opt out don't have to pay up front if they manage their invoices and incoming payments well.
"EQC undertakes to pay on the 20th of the following month, but in reality we often pay earlier than this where invoices are received in a prompt fashion."
Negative reaction, including more than 100 comments on press.co.nz, was unfounded, he said.
"Most of it seems to be based on the incorrect assumption from [the] story that customers are forced to pay for repairs ahead of EQC reimbursement ... "