Fifty Bay EQC claims in two years

By Brendan Manning

Bay people made nearly 50 claims to the EQC and were paid more than $38,000 for earthquake-related damage in the past two years.

GeoNet duty seismologist Brian Ferris said the two most widely felt earthquakes in the Western Bay of Plenty region last year registered five on the Modified Mercalli intensity scale.

The first was a magnitude 5.5 [on the Richter scale] on October 17, centred 10km northeast of Taupo, at a depth of 110km. It was felt from Auckland to Canterbury, and 450 reports from the Tauranga area were made to GeoNet.

The second was magnitude 5.8, centred 20km southeast of Tokoroa, at a depth of 175km and felt from Northland to Dunedin on December 8.

About 250 Western Bay of Plenty residents reported feeling the quake. In 2011 and 2012, 47 made claims and $38,274.23 was paid.

Before 2010, there was an average of 3231 claims nationwide made to the EQC annually.

About 1200 earthquakes were felt in New Zealand last year. While the tremors did not cause any serious damage or tsunamis, more than 50,000 claims were made to the EQC.

The most common reasons claims were refused during the past two years were the claim was a duplicate (30,300), and no record of an earthquake occurring (9964).

Other claims were declined for being below the $200 excess (2996), and related to pre-existing damage (1038).

Anyone with current private home and contents insurance which includes fire insurance policy automatically has EQC cover.

Claims must be made within three months from the date a natural disaster damaged your home, contents or land.

ECC customer services general manager Bruce Emson said the potential for fraud in a catastrophe recovery situation was an issue.

Evidence from overseas insurers found there was an element of fraud in about 10 per cent of claims.

"To date, EQC investigations have identified and prevented payments worth around $4.6 million, and 21 files have been referred to the police."

The EQC investigations team looked at more than 880 cases since February 2011, irregularities were often found to have come from a mistake, which could be resolved in-house. There has been five convictions and two hearings are pending from the investigations.


- Bay of Plenty Times

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