Unique insurance scheme supports Kiwis as risk of landslides increases

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EQC chief executive Tina Mitchell.

More New Zealand home owners are scrambling for their insurance documents as the country is increasingly battered by severe weather events.

Storms, floods, landslides and tornadoes have damaged land, infrastructure and homes in all corners of the country but, unfortunately, not enough Kiwis know what they are actually covered for by their insurers or the EQC Act.

“New Zealand is fortunate to have one of a very limited number of insurance schemes in the world that offers any form of insurance cover for land damage from natural disasters,” chief executive Tina Mitchell says.

She says landslides are often the most visible results of severe weather events, cutting off roads and causing damage to residential properties and land, and an increasing number of home owners are looking to Toka Tu Ake EQC to help repair land damage.

“Although we’re lucky to have a unique scheme that covers house and land damage, the scheme does have its limits, so it is vital that home owners understand what they are covered for and what they are not.”

EQCover includes the land under your home, land within 8m of your residence and the land supporting your driveway, up to 60m from your front door.

This also includes bridges and culverts within 60m, as well as some retaining walls to support your home.

Mitchell points to a number of media reports highlighting cases of home owners whose properties were affected by landslides, but the damage extended beyond the limits of the scheme, and was also not covered by their private insurer.

“Situations that fall outside the scheme are heart breaking, and as much as we wish we could help, we can only work within the bounds of the EQC Act.

“The Act has been set up to provide fairness across all home owners, whether you have a tiny garden, a lifestyle block or 5km driveway to the main road,” Mitchell says.

Mitchell says home owners need to carefully look at the cover they have for features like driveways and bridges and prepare appropriately.

“That may include a conversation with your neighbours if your driveway crosses the neighbour’s land, or seeking advice on preventive steps you can take to shore up the parts of their property that may be at risk.”

The historical name suggests the Earthquake Commission mainly deals with seismic events, but landslides are, in fact, one of EQC’s most common claims.

Over the past 150 years more New Zealanders have died as a result of landslides than have been killed by earthquakes.

“To better reflect that we help people recover from a range of natural disasters, not just earthquakes, we recently adopted a new name – Toka Tu Ake — which means the foundation from which we stand strong together,” Mitchell says. 

As well as resolving claims after a landslide, Toka Tu Ake invests significant funding in research to better understand landslides, so it can reduce the impact of future storms.

“This research is shared with councils, planners and developers to better understand the landslide risks in certain areas, so we can actively mitigate the potential impact of future landslides,” Mitchell says.

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