Resolving Canterbury earthquakes insurance claims

The Canterbury Earthquakes Insurance Tribunal Bill

Parliament is considering a Bill which would establish a tribunal to help people resolve residential insurance claims related to the Canterbury earthquakes.

Thousands of residential insurance claims from the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes are still unresolved.

The Government recognises the delays have been long and frustrating. Providing closure is vital to people’s wellbeing, and to maintain confidence in our legal and insurance systems.

The Canterbury Earthquakes Insurance Tribunal Bill will establish a tribunal to provide Canterbury homeowners with an efficient and flexible option to resolve long-standing insurance claims, and help them move on with their lives.

The Canterbury Earthquakes Insurance Tribunal proposed in the Bill

The Bill being considered by Parliament proposes a tribunal that is:

  • Specialist: focused exclusively on Canterbury earthquake-related residential insurance claims between homeowners and insurers (including Southern Response), or the Earthquake Commission.
  • Homeowner-oriented: puts the decision to initiate tribunal proceedings with homeowners.
  • Flexible: tailors its approach to the needs of each case, and has various options available for resolving claims without a formal hearing, including referral to an independent, funded mediation service provided by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). Read more about mediation on the MBIE website(external link)
  • Inquisitorial: seeks out facts, and works directly with parties to discuss issues and clarify areas of agreement and dispute.
  • Proactive: sets timeframes and manages cases to keep a claim progressing.
  • Empowered: can make any order a court can, including awarding costs or general damages, and can appoint independent expert advisers to help it understand the technical aspects of a claim.
  • Consistent with established law: decides claims based on existing law and precedent, and relevant insurance contract terms.

The proposed tribunal will not consider claims related to on-sold properties – many of these disputes are highly complex and may raise legal questions that ultimately need to be heard by the courts. Keeping these disputes outside the tribunal will help ensure they don’t delay resolution of other claims.

Another option for homeowners

The tribunal will be in addition to existing resolution options. Eligible homeowners could decide whether to apply to the tribunal to have their claim heard. For these homeowners, the tribunal will provide another way to make progress with insurance claims, and to reach an outcome.

The Bill provides that only homeowners can initiate the process. However, tribunal proceedings are independent and impartial. While insurers could not apply to the tribunal, they will still be able to file claims with the courts and access other resolution services - these options remain available for everyone.

The Bill is subject to the Parliamentary process and may change. The tribunal’s final form and process will only be certain once the Bill is passed; a tribunal Chair is appointed; and practice notes are developed to lay out the specifics of how the tribunal will operate.

Read more about how the Canterbury Earthquakes Insurance Tribunal might work, including FAQs

Next steps

The Bill has been introduced to Parliament. The next step is the Bill’s first reading, and then consideration by the Select Committee.

People will have the opportunity to comment on the Bill during the Select Committee process.

Follow the progress of the Canterbury Earthquakes Insurance Tribunal Bill on the New Zealand Parliament website(external link)

Read about how a bill becomes law on the New Zealand Parliament website(external link)

Contact us

Email the Ministry of Justice team working on setting up the tribunal

Related documents

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