12 Oct 2011

EQC review likely to give platform to critics

8:32 am on 12 October 2011

Stiff criticism from the insurance industry is expected to emerge when a review of the Earthquake Commission (EQC) gets under way next year.

An inquiry into how the commission works was announced on Tuesday, along with the Government's decision to triple the EQC home insurance levy.

Because of the Canterbury earthquakes the EQC is now virtually insolvent.

Industry criticism of the commission is muted in public, but some object to what they call needless duplication of what insurance companies already do.

They are also dismayed that the commission has run out of money at all, and that replenishing its coffers will take 30 years - according to government estimates - during which time there could be another big quake.

EQC itself expects changes

EQC chief executive Ian Simpson acknowledges there have been difficulties, and says he expects changes.

But he also says he believes the commission has performed beyond everyone's expectations, learning a lot from the "first real test" it has faced.

Insurance Council chief executive Chris Ryan says the commission has done "as good a job as they could in very difficult circumstances" but it's out of money and a serious look needs to be taken at where it goes from here.

Annual capped cost will be $207

Owners of insured homes currently pay 5c of every $100 of insurance cover to the commission, but that will rise to 15c from 1 February.

The annual capped cost will rise from $69 to $207 - an increase of $2.60 a week for most households, the Government says.