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Friday, January 14, 2011

Accuracy of EQC assessments with the passage of time.

Many people in this area had their assessments done towards the end of October (quite a few were done on the 26th of October, 11 weeks ago). Since then there have been major aftershocks on the 14th of November and the 26th of December, a number of significant other aftershocks (18 shocks of magnitude 4 or greater since Labour Weekend) and the passage of two and a half months since the assessment.

No doubt EQC rely on claimants to report any additional damage resulting from aftershocks, and many of us have done so. Ideally this information would be fed into the unfinished assessment process, adjustments made, and perhaps another visit arranged. Without feedback from EQC there is no way of knowing if this additional information has been applied to the original assessment.

Overlaying all of this is the effect of the amount of time that has elapsed. Since Labour Day there has been the impact of ground settling, weather (heavy rain and strong winds), and gravity pulling on damaged and mis-aligned structures. These effects can be subtle, unnoticed by the inexperienced eye, yet increase the amount of damage, perhaps to the point of adding significantly to the effort and cost of repairs.

There has to be a point where initial on-site assessments become so out of date they cannot be relied upon to produce an accurate final assessment.

Perhaps there should be a "use by" date applied to all assessments so that they must be redone if either of the following occur:
  • more than 6 weeks elapses between the making of the assessment and providing the finalised assessment to the claimant AND a claimant reports finding significant damage additional to that mentioned to, or by, the assessment team
  • there is an aftershock of sufficient magnitude that a claimant reports additional damage
No doubt this will cause additional work for EQC. The alternative, leaving matters the way they are, will be for claimants to be faced with an assessment based on potentially inadequate information and unsure whether they have received a fair and accurate assessment. This in turn may also cause a conflict of costings with insurers who may have made their own assessments at a different time.

Perhaps those of us who have had a visit, but are yet to receive a finalised assessment, should get together and look at whether we want to take a unified approach to this. Let me know.
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