Greater Christchurch Claims Resolution Services (GCCRS)
The Greater Christchurch Claims Resolution Services (GCCRS) provides new options for homeowners with unresolved earthquake claims.
What is the GCCRS?
The GCCRS was recently set up by the current Government, to provide homeowners with a free-to-access, independent process to help resolve residential earthquake claims. It is, as yet, too soon to assess whether this new initiative will be effective to help homeowners still struggling to get earthquake claims resolved and damaged homes repaired. However, there are some positive signs, including that EQC, Southern Response, IAG, Tower, Vero, FMG and MAS have all agreed to work with the GCCRS. This more collaborative approach is something for which the White Fox & Jones insurance team have been petitioning insurers for many years and accordingly consider this new initiative a positive step forward.
What can it provide?
The GCCRS say they recognise that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to resolving insurance claims, and therefore provide various mechanisms and levels of assistance. Claimants are allocated an individual GCCRS broker to assist with their claim, who will then manage the claim through other GCCRS services as required. White Fox & Jones has been working with these brokers to progress a number of our clients’ claims, utilising the services GCCRS offers.
Disagreements about what is earthquake damage and how to fix that damage is usually the main area of dispute in claims settlement and the involvement of engineers in these issues is often central to resolving insurance claims. Engineering New Zealand has put together an expert engineering panel that provides services to the GCCRS. These engineering services include:
- Carrying out an initial appraisal of the damage, often involving talking with the homeowner, visually inspecting the home, and writing a brief report;
- Undertaking a peer review of existing engineering reports; and
- Providing independent expert advice during a determination of an insurance claim.
Where a dispute is unable to be resolved, the GCCRS offers an Internal Dispute Resolution Service comprising:
- Facilitation – this is similar to a mediation process, where the parties agree to meet on a confidential basis, with an independent facilitator. The aim of the meeting is to attempt to reach a binding agreement on the dispute.
- Determination – a confidential process in which the parties agree that an independent expert will make a decision about the dispute. That decision will bind the parties.
- A combination of facilitation and determination – the parties agree to take part in a confidential process whereby they try to reach agreement on the dispute, and if they cannot reach such agreement, they agree to be bound by the decision of the independent expert determiner.
With court proceedings routinely taking in excess of two years to progress to trial, there is a real benefit to all parties in resolving claims using an alternative dispute resolution process. The GCCRS have engaged some highly qualified people (including former Judges) to participate in this process and there is accordingly good reason to be optimistic that it will be a success.
Further information regarding the GCCRS, its services and its processes can be found at https://www.gccrs.govt.nz.
As experts in earthquake-related matters, White Fox & Jones are fully equipped to guide and support you through the GCCRS claim resolution process. We can also fully support you to explore and follow alternative methods for resolving your earthquake insurance matters if GCCRS is not the best fit for your particular circumstances.