11 Nov 2015

Govt leaning towards EQC model - Brownlee

1:18 pm on 11 November 2015

The government is hinting the Earthquake Commission could retain its frontline disaster management role, despite suggestions it would be better as backroom operation behind insurance companies.

Many houses, such as this one in Cramner Square, were damaged beyond repair in the Christchurch earthquakes.

A Cranmer Square house damaged beyond repair in the Christchurch earthquakes. Photo: 123RF

The relationship between the Earthquake Commission and the private insurance industry was carefully analysed by Treasury in a report unveiled in July.

That report suggested earthquake victims should in future report to their private insurance companies who would then forward their claim to the Earthquake Commission.

It said this would reduce what it called information churn between a claimant, the commission and insurance companies.

Earthquake Commission and Canterbury Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee told insurers in Auckland this morning he was cautious about getting rid of the commission's role as a single go-to organisation.

"When it comes to issues of who is the first line of report when there is damage due to a natural disaster, it is good to have a go-to place," he said.

"We have seen that recently with some types of repairs with relatively minor additional costs.

"You know where to go because of that process."

Pushing the Earthquake Commission into a back-room role has been compared to making it a wholesaler to the insurance companies' retailer.

But Mr Brownlee said there was more to it than that, and the matter needed further consideration.