By Carmel Jagger
[This is the text of a speech given at a noon protest rally by TC3 residents outside the EQC office in Princess St, Addington today.]
EQC – a government owned crown entity. Established to provide earthquake cover for purchasers’ of fire insurance.
With cover provided by EQC and the additional cover provided by our private insurers you would think we would be assured of our recovery at a time of natural disaster. This is quite simply not the case.
Damage in the TC3 areas is on the whole more substantial than damage in any other green zoned areas. We are given maps with black dots showing work carried out by EQC. But we all know these dots do not relate to work carried out on homes that have suffered significant damage. The honest truth is any home sitting around 80K worth of assessed damage, and all homes already assessed as over cap, are receiving no attention.
Dual assessments – necessary because of the discrepancy between EQC cost assessment and our private insurers cost assessment for repairs. We have found ourselves caught between two very different methodologies. Private insurers replace “as new” whereas EQC replaces “substantially as new”. When EQC and private insurers are intrinsically linked by virtue of our insurance policies but are not on the same page we immediately hit a roadblock in our recovery. Who pays for this situation – we do! Is it of our making – No!
Apportionment – we appreciate that this series of earthquakes is unprecedented and that it could not have been anticipated. Multiple events resulting in multiple claims, and not enough time or resources to undertake assessments of all homes between these events. The liability of EQC to each claimable event does need to be quantified, but again – this is not a situation of our making but a process that needs to be decided between EQC and our insurance companies. We are told EQC is working on apportionment and are making good progress with this. But once again the reality for those of us with significant damage in TC3 is that we will be last in the queue for apportionment and until this is resolved we are left in no-man’s land, suffering financial distress – paying the bills for a mess you have not cleaned up.
Apportionment within TC3 is directly linked to the drilling programme. A programme we lack confidence in. And how is this programme resourced - 12 drilling rigs! For an area that encompasses 28,000 properties – approximately 4000 of which are confirmed rebuilds and another 10,000 with confirmed foundation damage. And only 12 drilling rigs! So again we are left in no-man’s land - waiting for answers – waiting for progress – and getting neither.
And what of our land reports. We are told EQC will start sending these out in April. Then we are told there is a glitch. And then we hear nothing. And every time we ask “when can we expect to receive our land reports” our question is not answered. It’s a simple question – why can EQC not give us a straightforward answer? And to add to that confusion we now know that land damage categories are being applied to further define the TC3 area. What are these – what do they mean for us? How do they impact our ability to move on? When will we have them? Again – we are left with more questions than answers. Two years on and no land reports!
Gerry Brownlee has publicly stated he has lost patience with the private insurers but the responsibility for our recovery does not lie wholly with the private insurers. We are here today to say WE have lost patience with EQC. We are here today to say OUR recovery is hampered by the very government owned crown entity that was set up to aid OUR recovery at times of natural disaster. The processes are unclear, the methodology is not aligned with the private insurance companies, the communication is erratic and woefully lacking in detail and it is under-resourced for the task at hand.
The toll this is taking cannot adequately be put into words. Just some of the emotions, the feelings commonly expressed are despair, abandoned, dejected, depressed, alone, forgotten, hopeless, exhausted, shattered, trapped.
Recovery from a natural disaster is not all about buildings and infrastructure. It is, just as importantly and essentially, about social recovery. Our communities, our families, our elderly, our vulnerable and our children. Disregard this and a price will be paid The recovery of New Zealand’s second largest city will undoubtedly be impeded. Do not let history show that the recovery of the people was not approached with a complete sense of duty, obligation, compassion and humanity.
John Key and Gerry Brownlee – we need to hear from you. We need to be able to rely on you. EQC is within your jurisdiction – tell us what you are going to do to help us recover before it is too late.