Dame Silvia Cartwright to head inquiry into EQC's earthquake claim handling

An independent inquiry led by former Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright will investigate the Earthquake Commission's (EQC) handling of Canterbury earthquake claims. 

The public inquiry will have the full powers of a Royal Commission and will focus on the handling of claims by EQC and other insurers.

However, it won't consider past settlements, current claims or previous decisions made by the courts on insurance-related matters. 

Earthquake Minister Megan Woods made the announcement on Tuesday, saying the aim of the inquiry is to learn from the events following the Canterbury earthquake and ensure EQC is fit for purpose for future events. 

"The insurance system as a whole, including EQC's role in that system, needs to be ready to deliver services to those affected by the next big event - whenever or wherever that happens," Ms Woods says. 

"How the inquiry approaches its task is a matter for the inquiry team, but I expect it will engage with all interested parties, especially those with direct experience of submitting and managing insurance claims."

Dame Silvia Cartwright was chosen to head the inquiry because of her extensive skill set and leadership experience, Ms Woods says. 

"Dame Silvia has enormous mana and experience with public enquiries, having led the famous Cartwright Inquiry into Auckland National Women's Hospital in the 1980s, and served on the Cambodian War Crimes Tribunal."

The inquiry will report back to the Governor-General by the end of June next year.