EQC data sharing with Southern Response and the handling of ethics violations of vulnerable people

S. Rowe made this Official Information request to Earthquake Commission

Currently waiting for a response from Earthquake Commission, they must respond promptly and normally no later than (details and exceptions).

From: S. Rowe

Dear Earthquake Commission,

I am requesting information about operating arrangements between EQC and Southern Response, in relation to claims received for the Canterbury earthquake sequence from 2010 onward.

When someone makes a complaint against EQC, EQC provides Southern Response with the details of those complaints.

1) How many complaints about EQC have been shared with Southern Response?
2) How many times has EQC communicated to Southern Response about those complaints?

EQC also sends claimant data to Southern Response via “Aggressive/Unacceptable Behaviour or Accident/Incident reports” lists.

3) How many times has EQC communicated claimant data to Southern Response through these lists?

EQC is required by the Agency Agreement with Southern Response to send Official Information Act requests it receives to Southern Response (Agency Agreement Section 17.3).

4) How many times has EQC communicated with Southern Response in relation to Official Information Act requests?
5) How many times has EQC also communicated claimant data to Southern Response along with the details of the Official Information Act request?

A single policy subject matter expert from Southern Response is available to EQC (Agency Agreement Section 8.3).

6) Has Southern Response appointed this single point of contact to EQC?
7) How many of the communications between EQC and the prescribed point of contact have shared claimant personal data?

EQC appears to not not be required or allowed to provide personal data about a claimant, excepting data related to final sign-off of settlements (Agency Agreement Section 6.6).

8) How many claimants have been provided privacy waivers that allow EQC to communicate personal data to Southern Response?
9) How many of the claimants whose information has been shared with Southern Response were not told that their information was going to be shared before it was shared?
10) How many of the claimants whose information has been shared with Southern Response were not told the specific information that would be shared with Southern Response before it was shared?
11) How many claimants have had personal data shared by EQC to Southern Response that wasn’t part of a final-settlement process?
12) Which members of the EQC Executive Leadership team are aware that EQC is sharing personal data with Southern Response without privacy waivers?

EQC has received legal advice through Southern Response about claimants.

13) Does EQC have legal advisors other than Southern Response?
14) How many times has EQC sought legal advice from Southern Response?
15) Are the occasions of EQC seeking legal advice from Southern Response approved by or with the awareness of EQC’s Chief Strategy Officer whose role includes providing advice and support on legal services?
16) Which members of the EQC Executive Leadership team are aware that EQC is seeking legal advice from Southern Response?

Southern Response has reallocated claims back to Southern Response from EQC.

17) How many claims have been reallocated from EQC back to Southern Response?
18) How many of those claims were on the complaints lists that EQC sends to Southern Response?
19) How many of those claims were on the “Aggressive/Unacceptable Behaviour or Accident/Incident reports” lists that EQC sends to Southern Response?
20) How many of those claims were of claimants that made Official Information Act requests to EQC?

EQC is required to “In respect of each SR Claim allocated to EQC under this agreement, EQC will: (a) assess, and prepare a description of: (i) the natural disaster damage; (ii) any proposed repair or rebuild methodology for that damage”. (Agency Agreement Section 6.1)

21) Does EQC work independently of Southern Response in the handling of claims?
22) Has EQC ever communicated to any claimant that EQC works closely with Southern Response to the point where they should be considered one team?
23) How many independent damage assessments has EQC made?
24) How many claimants have requested independent damage assessments and not been provided them?

Southern Response was required to make EQC aware of vulnerable persons. (Agency Agreement Section 6.7)

25) Was EQC provided with a list of vulnerable persons when the claims were allocated to EQC?
26) How many claimants have told EQC that they are vulnerable where EQC had not already been informed by Southern Response?

Southern Response has been found guilty of a significant breach of the insurance industry accepted code of ethics (Fair Insurance Code) on at least one claim that was allocated to EQC, which Southern Response was required to communicate to ICNZ before claims were allocated to EQC.

27) Was EQC informed by Southern Response about ethics violations on any claims as part of the handover process?
28) Was EQC informed that any of those claims also involved vulnerable persons?
29) If not as part of the handover then did EQC first learn of the ethics violations and vulnerable persons status from Southern Response or the claimants?
30) How many claims is EQC aware of where Southern Response was found to have made significant ethical violations?
31) How many claims is EQC aware of where Southern Response was found to have made significant ethical violations and the claimants are vulnerable individuals?
32) What measures were taken in relation to the claims, such as making sure an independent assessment of the claim was done, or isolating the claim from communication from Southern Response?
33) What steps were taken to prioritise the claims as per the Agency Agreement Section 6.7(b)?
34) After learning of these claims and violations of ethics did EQC communicate any details of the claims, outside of the final settlement agreement, to Southern Response?
35) How many of these claims had the claimants been told that EQC was making final settlement agreements?
36) For one of these claims EQC sought legal advice from Southern Response when the claimants asked the question. "Is there a more complete and formal definition of the role of EQC Settlement Specialist that you can provide me with?" Shortly after the claim was reallocated back to Southern Response. Does EQC know if these two events are related?
37) Did EQC consider any alternatives to asking Southern Response legal advice about a claim that Southern Response had been found to have committed ethical violations against?
38) Has EQC continued to communicate with Southern Response about these claims after the claims were reallocated back to Southern Response?

The Agency Agreement between EQC and Southern Response requires that EQC staff are well trained (Agency Agreement Section 9.1(a)).

39) Which members of the EQC Executive Leadership team are aware that EQC staff have received legal advice through Southern Response in order to be able to answer what the role of EQC Settlement Specialist is?
40) Is Hon Grant Robertson, the Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission, aware that EQC staff have received legal advice through Southern Response in order to be able communicate their job duties?

Yours faithfully,

S. Rowe

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From: Ministerial Services Team
Earthquake Commission


Attachment Official Information Act Letter.pdf
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Dear S Rowe

 

Your Official Information Act Request

Please find attached a letter from the Earthquake Commission regarding
your request for information.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Sam Blyth | Senior Advisor | Government Relations

Earthquake Commission | Kōmihana Rūwhenua

[1]www.eqc.govt.nz

 

 

 

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From: S. Rowe

Dear Ministerial Services Team,

You have asked for clarification on questions 23 and 24 and the phrase “independent damage assessments”.

Above those questions is quoted a section of the Agency Agreement between EQC and Southern Response.

Section 3 of the Agreement sets forth EQC’s Agency in relation to Southern Response which includes “assess and manage” the claims.

Section 6.1 provides details of the claims management function to be carried out by EQC. This includes “assess, and prepare a description of the natural disaster damage.”

EQC executives have made statements such as “Sometimes having a fresh set of eyes on claims does make a difference.” which was made by the EQC deputy CEO, Renee Walker.

The phrasing “independent damage assessments” is in relation to these sections of the Agency Agreement and public perception of EQC’s role as stated by executive EQC.

EQC has the ability to assess damage independently from Southern Response and has suggested this is one of the benefits of EQC taking over Southern Response’s claims, hence “independent damage assessments”.

As such, any questions similar to the following would all be related to EQC using its lawful agency, independent of Southern Response’s principle status, to fulfil the requirements of the Agency Agreement.

* “can you please provide me EQC’s damage assessment”,
* “what is EQC’s understanding of the damage”,
* “what is EQC’s assessment of the claim”,
* etc.

Yours sincerely,

S. Rowe

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