Engineering New Zealand is supporting the Government’s Greater Christchurch Claims Resolution Service (GCCRS), which is focused on resolving outstanding insurance claims.

Differences in engineering opinion are holding up the resolution of many of these insurance claims.

Engineering New Zealand wants to make sure that the right engineering input is provided at the right time. We’re doing this by:

  • Creating and administering an independent expert engineering panel supporting the GCCRS
  • Setting up a facilitation service to better understand differences of engineering opinion
  • Providing better information for the public and engineers about engineers’ role 

We’re also working with the engineering profession to uncover and understand the issues that engineers are grappling with, so that we can take action. 

How can engineers have differing opinions?

After a natural disaster, engineers carry out assessments that give their professional opinion on damage and how to reinstate that damage. The reinstatement needs to meet the standard required by the homeowner’s insurance policy as well as relevant regulatory requirements. 

Both parties use the engineer’s assessment to work out how to settle the claim. The engineer isn’t a decision maker in this process. 

Carrying out this type of engineering assessment isn’t straightforward. It involves looking at the property after the disaster and determining what has changed. The engineer takes into account any information available about the property before the disaster (including from the homeowner), what they see, and what they know about how the disaster affected that area (for example, what the ground shaking was like). 

Damage assessment and reinstatement recommendations require significant professional judgement. Differences in opinion often happen when engineers are given different briefs or scopes of work by homeowners and insurer. They can also happen when engineers make different assumptions about the property and how the disaster affected the area. 

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