Former head of Earthquake Commission says EQC caps should be increased to $400,000

A former head of the Earthquake Commission says it's time to look at increasing EQC caps to 400-thousand dollars.

EQC aims to offer support to homeowners hit by earthquakes - but former boss, David Middleton, say the payouts are too low and need urgent review. 

Next month, that payout threshold will increase from 100-thousand to 150-thousand dollars - but Middleton says that's not enough.

"[The] EQC cap of 100-thousand, which was set in 1993 to achieve the purpose that was described for it then, which was to rebuild an ordinary New Zealand home - that needs to be 400-thousand now," Middleton told Newshub.

EQC Cover is available to anybody with fire insurance on their home.

Increasing the 100-thousand cap for EQC payouts would mean a rise in levies for all homeowners with fire insurance.

People living in low-risk areas would be forced to pay to help cover those living in earthquake-prone areas.

"We're all in this together. If the nation's capital city was seriously disrupted by an earthquake, that would affect everybody," says Middleton.

The suggestion was pitched at an insurance forum on Monday, organised by Wellington's mayor, Justin Lester.

Concerns have grown about companies charging higher premiums - or not even covering homes in some areas.

Chief Executive of the Insurance Council, Tim Grafton, told Newshub: "There are some very real problems for a small number of people, relative to the entire New Zealand, and so our response needs to be proportionate and sustainable for those people."

The higher EQC cap will be one option presented at a cross-ministerial working group.

But Justin Lester is happy the Government is now directly engaged.

"They're bringing together a cross-ministerial working group and they're going to support that with a task force for people with real and lived experience," he told Newshub.

EQC caps are already set to rise next month by 50-thousand dollars. The question is now whether they'll go higher.