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Earthquake Commission

ACTS ADMINISTERED

The Earthquake Commission administers the Earthquake Commission Act 1993 (the Act) and Regulations.

EQC was established by the Earthquake Commission Act 1993, taking over the functions and assets of the Earthquake and War Damage Commission. 

FUNCTIONS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) is:

  • a Crown entity;
  • a Body Corporate with perpetual succession, a common seal and capital of $1.5 billion;
  • empowered to exercise all rights, powers and privileges and to incur the liabilities and obligations of a natural person;
  • subject to the Public Finance Act 1989;
  • responsible to the Minister of Finance who usually delegates responsibility to one of the Associate Ministers of Finance.  EQC is also responsible to the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery for all matters concerning the response to the Canterbury earthquakes.

The Act provides residential property owners in New Zealand, who have purchased fire insurance, with insurance cover for damage to dwellings, personal property and land caused by:

  • earthquake, natural landslip, volcanic eruption, hydrothermal activity or tsunami;
  • in the case of residential land, also storm or flood;
  • fire resulting from any of these natural disasters.

The cover provided for residential properties is first loss replacement value to a maximum of $100,000 on dwellings and an additional $20,000 on personal property (exclusive of GST). Land cover is provided outside these limits.

A premium of 5 cents per $100 of cover on buildings and contents is paid through insurance companies and passed on to EQC (the land coverage is free), less a small commission. The maximum premium payable is $67.50 per year, including GST.  The premium will increase to 15 cents per $100 from 1 February 2012. This will translate into a maximum levy of $207 per year, including GST.

EQC’s other functions are set out in Section 5 of the Act and are to:

  • Manage the Natural Disaster Fund, including investment of the Fund in accordance with policies agreed with the Minister.  At present the Fund is invested 70% in New Zealand government securities and 30% in offshore equities.
  • Fund and influence research into natural hazards and their mitigation.
  • Inform New Zealanders about how they can make their homes safer and protect their possessions from the effects of natural disasters.

In addition, EQC will undertake such other functions as may be conferred on it by:

  • This Act or any other Act; or
  • The Minister, by written notice to the Commission after consultation with the Commission.

STRUCTURE

EQC is defined as a Crown Agent by the Crown Entities Act (2004).  It is one of the Crown Financial Institutions (CFI’s) that manages large funds (in EQC’s case the Natural Disaster Fund) at arm’s length from Government. 

The Commission has a board of between five and nine members.  These, including a chairperson, are appointed by the Minister of Finance as the Minister in Charge of the Earthquake Commission.

Day-to-day management of EQC is delegated to the Chief Executive.  Key Personnel are listed in the organisational chart below.

Earthquake Commission structure

RECORDS

Records held by the Commission are as follows.

Claim Files (electronic only)

EQC maintains files in respect of claims received from individuals together with loss adjusters’ reports, engineers’ reports, recommendations and details of payments made. The personal nature of these files means that they are subject to restrictions on access imposed by the Privacy Act 1993.

Series Files

These contain information relating to the day-to-day activities of EQC (other than claims).

Premium Records

Details of premiums collected from insurance companies and brokers. The Act does not permit the release of this information other than in a form which does not allow the premiums or amounts of cover attributable to particular insurance company/companies to be identified.

DOCUMENTS RELATING TO DECISION-MAKING PROCESSES

Manuals held by the Commission cover matters of procedures, policy and catastrophe response planning.

PUBLICATIONS

As a Crown Entity, EQC is required to produce an Annual Report and a Statement of Intent every year.  A full list of EQC’s publications is available at www.eqc.govt.nz.

CONTACT

For further information, contact EQC’s Corporate Office or an EQC call centre. 

Earthquake Commission

Level 20

Majestic Centre

100 Willis Street

PO Box 790

WELLINGTON

Phone: (04) 978 6400

Fax: (04) 978 6431

Freephone: Claims 0800 DAMAGE (326243)

Website: www.eqc.govt.nz