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EQC becomes Natural Hazards Commission under new legislation

Tuesday 2 Jul 24 10:45am

Media release | The Earthquake Commission (EQC) has today become the Natural Hazards Commission Toka Tū Ake.

This reflects its role in supporting New Zealanders to prepare for and recover from a range of natural hazards, not just earthquakes. The new name is one of a raft of changes introduced by the new Natural Hazards Insurance Act that comes into force 1 July 2024 to update and modernise the scheme’s governing legislation.


The Government’s natural hazards insurance scheme has been in place for nearly 80 years, providing baseline cover for damage to insured properties from a range of natural hazards. Cover under the scheme remains largely the same under the new legislation, but the Act clarifies cover and entitlements, and introduces changes to improve the experience of insured homeowners making a claim.


Natural Hazards Commission Chief Executive Tina Mitchell said, “The Natural Hazards Commission exists to reduce the impact of natural hazards on people, property and communities across New Zealand, by providing baseline property cover for insured homeowners, investing in research and education to build more resilient communities, and helping build New Zealand’s readiness to natural hazards.”


“The new Act reinforces and strengthens this role, and modernises our governing legislation to ensure we are better set up to meet the needs of homeowners now and in the future.”


The Natural Hazards Insurance Act incorporates recommendations from the Public Inquiry into EQC and reflects lessons learned from the experience of Canterbury homeowners.


Mitchell says the Act makes claims for natural hazard damage more straightforward, for example, by creating a clearer process for claim excesses and calculations for retaining walls, bridges and culverts. Homeowners will also have increased cover for mixed-use buildings, such as apartments in commercial building.


“The Act also introduces improvements for homeowners making a claim. We simplified the claim experience two years ago through a partnership with insurers that channels insurance claims through your private insurer. These improvements will be further strengthened through a new Code of Insured Persons’ Rights and an independent dispute resolution service,” says Mitchell.


“Improvements to the scheme are timely as we see the impacts of a changing climate and the possibility of more extreme weather events in the years to come,” she says.


New Zealand is highly exposed to natural hazard risks, including a range of geological hazards such as earthquakes and volcanoes. The country also faces increasing exposure to severe weather events and sea level rise due to climate change. This makes the Commission’s research and resilience programme of work as important as ever.


“Every year, we invest millions of dollars in natural hazards research and work hard to translate that into information that can be used to improve seismic resilience, earthquake engineering and land use planning.”


“We also work hard to support homeowners to understand their own risks, and how they can build resilience at an individual level.  Knowing what you can do to safeguard your home and what you are covered for goes a long way in providing peace of mind,” says Mitchell.


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