Disaster insurer EQC considers tech boost for field response

The Canterbury earthquakes starting 2010 revealed shortcomings in the technology supporting EQC's field service and costings.

Disaster insurer EQC, much criticised for its response to the earthquakes that devastated Canterbury since late 2010, is looking to technology to improve its field service and costing accuracy.

The state-owned insurer is considering replacing a costing database developed in-house with a commercial system that could also enable direct service to damage assessors in the field.

A 2013 report by Wellington consultancy Martin Jenkins (MJ) and Associates and independent expert Derek Scott, found a series of shortcomings in EQC's response to the devastating earthquakes.

Among these, iPad-based software introduced proved incompatible with EQC's core ClaimCenter software and not flexible enough to deal with multiple events.

Field data was recorded on paper during the early days of the response, but staff inputting data did not fully understand ClaimCenter leading to discrepancies.

EQC is now evaluating costing databases and delivery mechanisms to support accurate pricing of claim settlements.

EQC's current costing database houses line item property repair costs segmented by components such as materials, labour and repair methods, a request for information says. This is used to calculate settlements through an assessment.

"This database was initially developed some years ago, but was scaled up markedly through the Canterbury series of events and has been adapted for use in the subsequent events," the document says.

"Due to inherent characteristics of the Canterbury events, the database has limitations in its application outside of Canterbury and is focused solely on damage caused by earthquakes, rather than the other natural disaster events that EQC covers, e.g. volcanic eruption where removal of ash may become a requirement."

EQC says any new database should be available on devices such as smart phones, tablets and laptops and should also offer offline capability.