EQC update on the “Opting out” process

EQC have changed their Opting out web page by adding a small section on how permission to opt out is formalised (here).

Confirmation to Proceed letter

We’ll send you a Confirmation to Proceed letter when your form has been processed. It’s important that you don’t authorise or start any repairs until you’ve got the Confirmation to Proceed letter.

Fletcher/EQR – identifying their staff

To help avoid confusion, and protect residents from people pretending to be Fletcher/EQR contractors, Fletcher’s have put the following information on their website (here):

We have had recent reports that homeowners and other occupants are being telephoned by people falsely representing themselves as accredited contractors, with the apparent purpose of creating opportunities for burglary.  We would like to ensure that you know what to expect when we get in touch with you about your repairs. If you receive an approach that doesn’t stack up, you should treat it with suspicion. This is what happens when we contact you for the first time …

  1. You will be contacted by a Fletcher EQR staff member based in one of our Hubs. The first contact will not be from a contractor.
  2. The scoping visit – when we visit you to review the damage to your home and prepare a Scope of Works – always involves a Fletcher EQR staff member (one of our contract supervisors). It will also involve a contractor representative, and often an EQC staff member as well.

If you haven’t heard directly from Fletcher EQR but you are contacted by a contractor’s representative you should ask:

  • What is your name?
  • What is the ID number on your Fletcher EQR identification card?
  • What is the name of the company your work for?
  • Which Fletcher EQR Hub has referred you?
  • What is the name of the contract supervisor you are working with?

Having asked those questions you should be able to assess whether the approach is legitimate. You can also refer to our Hub contacts page – www.eqr.co.nz/contacts – and call the relevant Hub to confirm the information supplied by the caller. We advise you not to provide any information to a caller unless you’re absolutely certain about their identity. Finally, any Fletcher or contractor staff who come to your home in connection with repairs should be able to produce the relevant identification card.


EQC – Removal of liquefaction (silt)

EQC have updated their FAQ on the removal of silt from driveways and gardens. The additions are highlighted below. The FAQ now reads:

My garden and driveway are covered in liquefaction. If I pay a person to clear this mess can I claim back the clearance, removal and tip fees from EQC if I have a claim?

If you have insurance, EQC covers the cost of removal or disposal of liquefaction. Contact EQC on 0800 DAMAGE to have your liquefaction removed by Fletcher EQR. If you have had someone other than Fletcher EQR remove your liquefaction and it’s later than January 2012, make sure you get a tax invoice from the contractor and keep any receipts such as tip receipts so that you can claim back costs from the EQC, if this work was caused by earthquake.

The earlier version was: If you have insurance, EQC covers the cost of removal or disposal of liquefaction. Make sure you get a tax invoice from the contractor and keep any receipts such as tip receipts so that you can claim back costs from the EQC, if this work was caused by earthquake. .

Dealing with hard bargainers

Everyone with a damaged house or in the residential Red Zone has found, or one day will find, themselves negotiating with EQC, their insurance companies and those who work for them (Fletcher EQR, Arrow, Hawkins and the like). As occurs in some of the professions, those doing the negotiating have a set of commercial requirements and professional ethics that bind them to behave in a certain way.  Which is fine for them, but a cause of disquiet for many who come up against them. Why? Because sometimes professional ethics seem to exclude what the lay person would consider fairness, decency, openness and honesty. Some of this disquiet arises because homeowners don’t have a full appreciation of the way their insurance policy is being interpreted. What seemed to be clear at the beginning becomes increasingly less clear and confidence fades away. In some cases it is because of the stance being taken by the insurer or their agent: e.g. unless you specifically ask about a policy entitlement some companies do not volunteer the information. Many with a knowledge of WINZ will understand this tactic. Sometimes the approach of the agent is hurried, unfriendly, or incoherent which creates a difficult discussion environment. Nigel Dunlop, an Auckland barrister, is an accomplished mediator with many years of experience. On his website (here) are a number of articles based on the mediation work he has done. Of particular interest are articles about the bargaining ploys and tactics used by experienced  practitioners, people similar to those you may come across when dealing with insurance issues, or the council, CERA and some politicians. A few starting points would be (click on the title to go to the article):

Reading them can be hard work, and may not make you better at putting your case, but you will have an insight into what approaches some on the “other side” may use. None of the articles will solve the puzzle of why the conduct is considered to be ethical in the first place. What reading Mr Dunlop’s articles does reinforce is the necessity for an advocacy service. All the tribunals in the world will not redress the power and skills imbalance that exist between individuals, and those that seek to delay, minimise and deny legal entitlements. Could it be that Minister Brownlee, in agreeing to look at a tribunal system, knows he can appear to be doing good (making a concession) while not changing the imbalance in any material way (a misleading concession)? .