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EQ Homeowners Group Supports Engineering Instruction

EQ Homeowners Group Supports Promotion and Use of Engineering Instruction

An engineering brief template developed to improve outcomes for claimants with earthquake damaged homes, has been given the thumbs up.

The Homeowners Advisory Group (HOAG), which works alongside the Greater Christchurch Claims Resolution Service (GCCRS), says the brief is a “good document” that more people should know about and use when they engage an engineer to provide technical advice in relation to an insurance claim.

HOAG Chair, Tom McBrearty, says the engineering brief template, or instruction as it is also known, clearly reinforces the need to correctly identify earthquake damage and recommend reinstatement as per the property owner’s insurance policy, the EQC Act and in accordance with any necessary building regulations.

“For too long, the insurance response has not always been acknowledged in this process,” he says. “It’s been about identifying obvious, visible damage and in many cases with a view to quickly and cost effectively returning people to their homes. This has, in our opinion, created a whole host of issues – failed repairs being one significant one,” he says. “Engineers have been doing what has been asked of them and that’s their job but the briefs they have been provided with, in our opinion, are woefully deficient in a number of cases.”
He adds that it is heartening to see Engineering New Zealand acting on behalf of its members to listen to and acknowledge homeowners’ concerns by promoting the use of an engineering brief template that aims to respond in accordance with the insurance contract.
HOAG Technical Advisor, David Townshend, says working with Engineering New Zealand to develop the brief has been a positive step forward.

“Consistency in approach has been a big focus of the HOAG. There are still many homeowners who have disagreements with insurers simply because the experts have been engaged differently,” he says. “It’s like comparing apples and oranges, so having a brief that is common and agreed between the insurer and insured can remove many technical disagreements and make claim settlement quicker and simpler.”

Engineering New Zealand General Manager – Legal and Policy Helen Davidson says having one standard template for engaging an engineer lets engineers focus on the technical issues, rather than getting dragged into legal interpretation of insurance policies.

“Anyone can use our template to engage an engineer to carry out a damage assessment and provide reinstatement recommendations. Using the template helps make sure everyone involved is on the same page – and can prevent later conflict.”

David Townshend says, while the HOAG agrees that engineering experts are generally not legally qualified to interpret insurance policies, they are the only ones qualified to comment on technical matters within their area of expertise which need to be linked back to insurance principals. “A good engineering engagement accomplishes that,” he says.

Tom McBrearty says the HOAG is also recommending to EQC that they use the brief template.

“We’ve had a positive response from EQC and we look forward to progress being made,” he says.

The template letter of engagement can be found here https://www.engineeringnz.org/our-work/christchurch-residential-earthquake-claims-service/engaging-engineer/


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