Engineering and technical advice

If you need an engineer to carry out a damage assessment or to review what your insurer has provided, the New Zealand Claims Resolution Service (NZCRS) has partnered with Engineering New Zealand to make the process easier.

The NZCRS does not provide engineering advice to homeowners directly. We have partnered with Engineering New Zealand to make it easier for homeowners to access expert engineering advice. You can choose to engage an engineer:

  • directly, or
  • through Engineering New Zealand with our support.

The engineer’s advice is provided to you, not the NZCRS.

Before any engineering services begin, your case manager will discuss costs that would need to be met by you as the property owner.

Lessons learnt from the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence

In 2023, Engineering New Zealand developed legacy documentation to capture lessons learnt from the work of the Engineering New Zealand Expert Panel in helping to resolve insurance claims related to the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence. These were developed with input from the Panel and the Engineering Advisory Group, and in consultation with stakeholder representatives from the Homeowners Advisory Group, private insurers, Toka Tū Ake EQC, lawyers and NZCRS.

The documentation for engineering working in the area of natural disaster insurance claims can be found on ENZ’s website:

Engineers and natural disaster claims(external link) – Engineering New Zealand

How to engage an engineer

Engineering New Zealand has developed guidance for homeowners, which is available on its website. This information tells you:

  • what an engineer’s role is
  • how to find and engage one
  • what happens once you have engaged them.

You can view the Guidance for Homeowners document here that was developed as part of the legacy documentation.

Lessons learned: Christchurch expert earthquake engineering panel – Legacy document 3 Guidance for homeowners [PDF, 178 KB] – Engineering New Zealand

Engineering New Zealand has also developed a template letter of engagement that anyone can use to engage an engineer to carry out a damage assessment and provide reinstatement recommendations. Using the template helps make sure everyone involved is on the same page and can prevent later conflict. The template can be downloaded from the Engineering New Zealand website.

We encourage homeowners to use this information and letter of engagement when instructing an engineer. It clearly outlines:

  • the engineer’s role and responsibilities in an insurance context
  • what homeowners should be asking their engineer to look at
  • definitions of key terms.

The letter can be downloaded from the Engineering New Zealand website below.

Engaging an engineer(external link) – Engineering New Zealand

Expert Engineering Panel

To make it easier to find an engineer, Engineering New Zealand has set up the Expert Engineering Panel to provide technical and expert advice and help resolve insurance claims through the NZCRS.

You don’t have to use this Panel, but you should make sure your engineer has the relevant qualifications and experience in natural disasters to:

  • accurately assess the damage to your property
  • provide the technical evidence to prove how the damage occurred
  • and where appropriate, provide a repair solution.

Expert Engineering Panel(external link) – Engineering New Zealand

Services provided by the Panel

The NZCRS may support homeowners to use the Panel in the following situations, where we consider that engineering expertise is required to make progress on their insurance claim.

Initial appraisals

The NZCRS may suggest that you ask a Panel Member to carry out an initial appraisal. This could be under a joint instruction from the homeowner and the insurer.

Its purpose is to determine steps that could be taken to resolve the claim.

An initial appraisal typically involves a conversation with the homeowner about their observations of natural disaster damage or inadequate repairs, a visual assessment of the home, and a brief report about issues.

Peer review

Where Toku Tū Ake EQC or your insurer has already provided you with a report, the NZCRS may suggest that you ask a Panel Member to carry out a peer review of engineering assessments of natural disaster damage and reinstatement recommendations for a home. The peer review can include advice about whether:

  • sufficient investigations have been carried out
  • the evidence supports the findings
  • the correct standards have been applied
  • the conclusions in the report are robust.

Engineering assessment of damage and reinstatement recommendations

A Panel Member can be engaged by the homeowner, the insurer or both to carry out a full engineering assessment of the home, advise on natural disaster damage and recommend an appropriate reinstatement methodology.

Provide explanations about engineering assessments

When they have prepared a report through the NZCRS process, a Panel Member can be asked by the NZCRS to meet with a homeowner or insurer to discuss an engineering report that either party has received. This involves helping the homeowner or the insurer to understand the report’s findings and recommendations.

Technical facilitation

A Panel Member specifically trained in facilitation and mediation techniques can be asked by the NZCRS to act as an independent facilitator between engineers who have different opinions on the natural disaster damage and reinstatement. The Panel Member will facilitate a conversation with these engineers to better understand where opinions align and where they are misaligned. The purpose of the facilitation is to give everyone greater clarity about how to move forward, towards resolving the insurance claim.

Expert advisor 

A Panel Member can be asked by the NZCRS to provide independent expert engineering advice during a determination of an insurance claim, acting in accordance with the High Court Code of Conduct for Expert Witnesses.