Megan Woods struck back at the Insurance Council yesterday over its stinging attack at the earthquake tribunal.
The Government introduced legislation this week that wil see the Canterbury Earthquakes Insurance Tribunal established.
It will give homeowners another option to speed up insurance claims from the quakes.
But yesterday Insurance Council chief executive Tim Grafton said it was unfair as only policy holders – and not insurance ompanies – could bring cases.
“The people of Canterbury deserve better than a tardy process that fails the test for best practise policy development,” said Mr Grafton.
“The tribunal won’t be up and running until 2019, the best part of 18 months since the Government was elected,” said Mr Grafton.
“It will have been nearly 9 years since the first quakes, far too long by anyone’s measure to be finally trying to sort this out. Insurers want to settle their customers’ claims as quickly as possible but we’re still receiving, on average, two claims a day from EQC.”
Dr Woods, the Minister of Greater Christcgurch Regeneratoion responded: “I will not be lectured about tardiness by an insurance industry that has had nearly eight years to settle these claims. There are still thousands of claims that need to be resolved and this Government is taking action.
“This is a disappointing reaction from the Insurance Council. For nearly eight years too many Cantabrians have been battling with their insurance companies to have their claims settled. We promised Cantabrians a new way of having their claims settled and their lives back on track. We are delivering on that promise.”
“It’s surprising to me that the Insurance Council thought they would get special treatment beyond what everyone else is getting. As Minister, my primary concern is the thousands of people still waiting to have their claims resolved.”
Mr Grafton said the Insurance Council did welcome the introduction of the Bill because of the long wait for some claimants to settle their claims.
But there were concerns over how the tribunal could be run.
” It will not allow insurers to bring cases, only policy-holders. This is unfair as it only deals with one half of the problem and the Ministry of Justice agrees, saying it creates inequity of access to justice,” he said.
“Some Cantabrians appear stuck, unable to make decisions and move their claims forward due to the enormity of the changes the earthquakes have wrought on their lives. A tribunal that allowed both sides to bring claims would be fair and balanced and truly working towards the goal of helping everyone find resolutions and move forward from the quakes.”
He said key stakeholders like EQC, Southern Response and private insurance companies had not been consulted in over the Bill.