An active volcano erupted in New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island in early December, injuring dozens – and the official death toll still isn't set. Both residents and visitors were in the area when the volcano erupted, changing lives forever. The tragedy uniquely allows those affected to apply for compensation under New Zealand's public indemnity insurance policy.
Response plan was not yet finished
When the volcano erupted 9 December 2019, there was no set response plan that was in working order. The NZ Herald reported that the Bay of Plenty Civil Defence Emergency Management Group had a draft of its response plan when the disaster occurred, and claimed that this preliminary version was both operational and the most effective means of action at the time.
When looking into the details of the drafted response plan, NZ Herald found the "search and rescue" section was not very comprehensive. This segment was only two sentences long, and did not provide particularly clear details on how to carry out a search-and-rescue mission in the case of an emergency. This description was also only found on the last page of the response plan.
The Defence Emergency Management Group said that its plan was still being reviewed when the volcano unexpectedly exploded. The group told the NZ Herald that the proposal was nearing approval when the disaster happened – in fact, it was in the final steps of being completed.
Public indemnity insurance
When disasters happen in New Zealand, residents and visitors alike are able to apply for compensation, according to ABC News. This policy is called public indemnity insurance, where everyone in New Zealand at the time of the incident is covered – even those who do not live there.
Any time someone suffers an accident while in New Zealand, this rule applies, even if the injury results from something out of anyone's control, such as a terrorist attack or a natural disaster like this one. ABC News reported that anyone affected by the Whakaari/White Island disaster is able to receive funds from the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC). This applies for those who were impacted by the eruption directly, as well as the relatives of those who died in the tragedy. It also covers Australian tourists who are visiting New Zealand – many of the victims in the tragedy were Australian visitors.
Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers are here to help with all of your public liability claims. If you feel that you have been wronged as a result of government negligence, you could be entitled to compensation. Contact us today.