The earthquake commission has been squirrelling money away since 1945 to pay for a disaster such as the one that hit Christchurch this year. The money is now all gone. If there’s another disaster tomorrow there’s nothing left to pay for it with. Given that it took more than 60 years to save the money in the first place and the likelihood there’ll be another expensive disaster within the next 60 years, something has to change.
One possibility is that New Zealanders take more responsibility to mitigate their risks. For instance, there are people in Christchurch who have had televisions replaced at the expense of EQC following each major shake. It’s fair enough to say that the first one took us by surprise and many people lost expensive LCD tvs. But to get a new tv, not secure it, then lose it again in the December quake is not misfortune but carelessness, as Oscar Wilde once wrote. I wonder how many people lost the second new television after the February quake and then another after the June quakes? How many new televisions should the EQC pay for?
Insurance companies provide incentives for customers to mitigate their risks in the form of lower premiums. For example, if you install a burglar alarm you can often get a reduction in the insurance premium. So requesting New Zealanders take some responsibility to reduce the cost of insurance is nothing new. Perhaps the EQC should do away with covering contents all together and just cover the cost of house and land damage? But not until this is all over of course and everyone in Christchurch has been paid out 🙂