18 Nov 2011

EQC questions whether it should cover home contents

6:00 am on 18 November 2011

The chair of the Earthquake Commission is questioning whether it should insure household contents.

Michael Wintringham raised the question in the commission's annual report.

The report shows the Government-guaranteed insurer suffered a $7.1 billion loss in the year to the end of June due to the Canterbury earthquakes.

Mr Wintringham says about 7% of EQC's $11.4 billion in liabilities from claims will be for household contents.

He says those claims account for a disproportionate share of claims-handling costs.

"The administrative cost of processing and verifying a $700 claim is a lot high than, proportionately, the administration of a $20,000, $30,000 or $40,000 claim," he says.

Mr Wintringham says it seems counterintuitive that an organisation which insures against major disasters should be resolving claims for crockery and household appliances.

He says an upcoming government review of the commission could consider whether household contents cover should be provided by private insurers in a disaster.