WELLINGTON, June 26 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand Finance Minister Steven Joyce and the Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission (EQC) Gerry Brownlee on Monday announced plans to simplify and improve the EQC scheme for New Zealanders.
"EQC has provided huge support to New Zealanders following the Christchurch, Seddon, and Kaikura earthquakes," Joyce said in a statement, adding that this review has offered the opportunity to consider how the scheme could work more effectively for future natural disasters.
"Everyone with a private insurance policy, that includes fire insurance for their residential building, will continue to receive EQC cover," Joyce said.
Brownlee said the reforms will have no impact on the handling and outcome of existing EQC claims, adding that they will simplify the relationship between the EQC scheme and private insurance and "help provide faster and smoother resolution of claims following a major event."
The reforms include increasing the monetary cap from 100,000 NZ dollars (72,800 U.S. dollars) to 150,000 NZ dollars (109,200 U.S. dollars) for EQC building cover, and standardizing the claims excess on EQC building cover at 1,000 NZ dollars (728 U.S. dollars). This currently ranges from 200 NZ dollars (145.6 U.S. dollars) to 1,150 NZ dollars (837.2 U.S. dollars) depending on the size of the claim.
The reforms also require EQC claimants to lodge claims with their private insurer who would pass the claim on to EQC, if the property is insured, which will "help EQC and private insurers work better together in future," said Brownlee.
The government hopes to release a draft of an EQC reform bill later this year or early next year, with the changes anticipated to be implemented in 2020, he said.