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Last month (March) Community Law Marlborough once again got to host John Goddard from the law firm Morrison Kent | Wellington.
On this occasion John travelled to Ward to give his presentation on “How to Navigate Earthquake Claims” A guide for claimants. There was a great turnout with lots of questions asked.
Here are the main points from his presentation.
Following the November 14 earthquake homeowners have until midnight on 14 February 2017 to make a claim with EQC. If you have home or contents insurance, you will have EQC cover. However, this is limited to certain amounts and does not cover all types of loss so you may have to claim under your private insurance as well. In this case, the extent of your cover will depend on the terms of your particular policy. Don’t be afraid to discuss any concerns with your insurer. Insurance companies may well take a generous view given the extraordinary circumstances and any hardship to you.
If you don’t currently have any insurance, now may be a good time to consider getting some, even if it is minimal coverage. Contact your bank or insurance companies and discuss what coverage you can get at a reasonable price. Things to consider at this time are your clothes, your food, your children’s clothes and toys. The cost of insurance may be worth it for any future loss if you ever have to replace all of these items at one time, or have to move out of your home at short notice.
1. What does the Earthquake Commission cover?
To qualify for Earthquake Commission (EQC) cover, you must have private insurance. You must lodge a claim with EQC and your private insurance company. The deadline may be different for your private insurer than the 3 month deadline for EQC, check your policy to ensure your claim is in to your private insurer in time.
EQC will cover your house up to $100,000+GST and up to $20,000+GST for contents. Damage to vehicles (including cars, boats, trailers, and motorbikes) is not covered by the EQC; you will need to make a claim with your own insurance company for damage to vehicles. There is also a list of assets the EQC will not cover, for example: swimming pools, fences, jewellery, money, works of art, securities, and documents.
Some damage to land is also covered by the EQC. For example, damage to accessways up to 60 metres (but not the artificial surfaces on them) and damage around the house up to 8 metres away from the house. If your land is unusable for rebuilding, you will be paid out for your land. This payout is based on a series of calculations set out in the Earthquake Commission Act.
Natural disasters like earthquakes are not ordinary events, and require landlords and tenants to work together in good faith.
If you and your landlord are unable to reach a solution which you think is reasonable, then you can take further steps to have the matter sorted.
You can ask for:
information about tenancy rights & responsibilities on 0800 TENANCY (the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) tenancy helpline)
- practical advice, advocacy and support through Tenants Protection Association
- legal assistance from Community Law Marlborough
- or seek formal mediation through Tenancy Services at MBIE.
If mediation doesn’t resolve the issue, you can apply to be heard by the Tenancy Tribunal, who will make a decision which you and your landlord must follow. The Tribunal has the power (among other things) to end a tenancy, impose rent reductions or compensation, and order that maintenance work be done to make the property safe and usable.
The earthquake caused a range of damage to businesses in the Marlborough region and to the homes and lives of employers and employees. These are difficult times and the circumstances call for good
ongoing communication, cooperation and flexibility from all concerned. Employers and employees should be talking to each other about pragmatic solutions to speed recovery for everyone's benefit.
1. Can my employer require me to take annual leave because the workplace is closed?
Your employer can require you to take annual leave after giving you at least 14 days' notice if he or she has been unable to reach agreement with you. This only applies to annual leave that you are entitled
to on each anniversary of the date you commenced employment. You cannot be required to take annual leave on less than '14 days' notice, but you can agree with your employer to do so.
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