New Zealand's dual insurance system has been deemed "inefficient" by a leading insurance company in the wake of the Canterbury earthquakes.
A report by Vero insurance and Deloitte Access Economics -- Four Years On: Insurance and the Canterbury Earthquakes -- was released today in Christchurch.
The dual claims management model -- in which claimants had to deal with both their insurer and the Earthquake Commission (EQC) -- was slow, frustrating and inefficient, Vero bosses said, questioning whether it delivered the best outcome for customers.
Vero executive general manager of claims, Jimmy Higgins, said the dual system had a significant impact on the timely resolution of claims for customers.
"In a natural disaster, there is no shortage of good intentions by all players involved in disaster recovery -- but we need to make sure the system is efficient and works for customers," he said.
"The question is whether having both an insurance company and EQC managing claims is the right approach.
"Many insurers, including Vero, have worked hard to compensate for inefficiencies in the operation of New Zealand's natural disaster insurance model.
"The current set-up does not always have customers at the centre and there are lessons that have been learned which can be applied to getting better outcomes for New Zealanders."
Vero chief executive Gary Dransfield said dealing with "one of the world's most complex insurance events in recent times" had prompted the company to look at what lessons it could learn.
"The feedback we've consistently had is customers want a much simpler and more efficient process, particularly around claims management," he said.
"In their moment of truth, customers need their insurer to help them get their lives back to normal as quickly as possible. This needs to be the defining principle of New Zealand's insurance framework."
Mr Dransfield said getting insurance right was "vitally important" for Kiwis because of a high proportion of property ownership and the risk from natural disasters in this country.
"We support a dual insurance model, but it is important to ensure that the primary aim is to get the best outcomes for New Zealanders."
The company called for a "discussion" on how to best handle natural disaster insurance.