Confidence new tribunal will aid aggrieved quake claimants

A Christchurch insurance advocate says he is optimistic the new Canterbury Earthquake Insurance Tribunal will finally resolve the long-standing issues.

The government has launched an earthquake insurance tribunal to try and finally resolve insurance claims from the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes.

Dean Lester, who acts as a insurance claim preparer in Christchurch, said the tribunal will be able to make a considered decision on the matters in dispute without people facing the cost of a High Court trial.

He said often people with outstanding claims only have one or two sticking points, and don’t want to take those to the High Court due to the prospect of a six-figure legal bill.

The Budget allocated $3.387 million for the tribunal over the next year.

It will be available to those dealing with the Earthquake Commission, the government-owned claims resolution agency, Southern Response and private insurers.

Cases can be transferred from the High Court and claimants can choose an advocate to work on their behalf.

The tribunal is based in Christchurch and chaired by former district court judge Chris Somerville.

In 2011 the High Court set up the Earthquake List in a bid to deal swiftly with earthquake-related litigation.