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ACC support for Chch earthquake victims

Hon Dr Nick Smith
Minister for ACC

2 March 2011

ACC support for Chch earthquake victims

ACC is doing all it can to support the injured and those who have lost loved ones in the Christchurch earthquake, ACC Minister Nick Smith says.

“Our unique no-fault ACC scheme provides certainty of entitlements for the injured and bereaved. These can include emergency care, medical treatment, rehabilitation in New Zealand and lump sum compensation for the significantly injured and funeral and survivor’s grants for the spouse and dependents of the deceased – including for visitors to New Zealand. New Zealand workers are also entitled to income compensation,” Dr Smith said.

“A preliminary estimate of the full cost to ACC of claims into the future of the 22 February earthquake is $370 million. This is not an immediate cost to ACC as much of this will be paid in care, rehabilitation, and income compensation that will be required for decades into the future. The estimate needs to be kept in context of ACC having $14 billion in reserves and claims costs each year of more than $3 billion.

“People who are injured or who have suffered the loss of a loved one, can be assured that ACC has significant and sufficient reserves to meet the cost of all entitlements that will need to be funded as a result of this event.

“On Monday the Government agreed to changes specifically for injured workers. Normally the employer would be responsible for the first week of income compensation for a work injury and the employee for a non-work injury. However, due to the earthquake’s widespread effects on businesses, employers and employees, Cabinet has decided that ACC will meet the costs of the first week of income compensation for those workers injured in the earthquake who will be on income compensation for more than a week.

“This pragmatic change avoids confusion over whether an injury sustained during lunch was a work or non-work accident. ACC will now pick up a cost that would otherwise fall on businesses and workers who are already under considerable financial pressure.

“ACC has prepared specific information packs on entitlements for those who are injured or who have suffered the loss of a loved one, which have been translated into other languages and made available to hospitals, government agencies, citizen advice bureaux, as well as embassies.”

For those seeking information, ACC has a toll free calling number 0800 101 996 and website http://www.acc.co.nz/making-a-claim/canterbury-earthquake/index.htm

“ACC in Christchurch has had its own challenges with premises closed due to damage, computer systems down and staff affected by the earthquake,” Dr Smith said. “ACC’s Northwood office re-opened to the public this week but ACC is encouraging claimants in the first instance and who have already seen a treatment provider, such as a GP, to ring its 0800 number as there are staff throughout New Zealand who can help.

“I want to assure those who are injured and the families who have lost loved ones that ACC will provide every support and assistance at this trying time.”

ENDS

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