2 Dec 2013

Insurer agrees to quake claims deadline

3:37 pm on 2 December 2013

Government-owned insurer Southern Response has been given two weeks to address problems with the cases of more than 60 Christchurch earthquake-affected homeowners who protested outside the company's office in the city on Monday.

Protesters outside the Southern Response office in Christchurch.

Protesters outside the Southern Response office in Christchurch. Photo: RNZ

They say they are fed up with the way their quake-damage claims are being handled, citing delays in payouts and the value of those payouts as the main problems.

One protester, Laurence Burlton, says after complaining that the payout for his red-zoned home wasn't enough, he hired a quantity surveyor who told him the offer was more than $100,000 short.

"Basically they said to us, 'This is a fair deal, go round to a few building companies and see if whether it's fair' ... We went to round to a number of building companies and they said, 'No we can't actually build your house for that that's been offered to you'. So I engaged a QS and that's where we've got a $115,000 difference."

Other people say they are in similar situations.

Southern Response chief executive Peter Rose answered questions from the demonstrators and agreed to assign extra staff to work on their cases.

Mr Rose said he is not surprised by their frustration. "New Zealand is the only country in the world that's had open-ended insurance - that is there is no sum insured, there's a square meterage that's covered. So effectively every policy, every bit of damage, every property loss is negotiable."

He accepted the challenge to respond to everyone's concerns within two weeks.

Protest organiser and multi-sport athlete Steve Gurney said he is glad Mr Rose appeared to answer the crowd's questions, but is sceptical that anything will change.

"Peter Rose has previously not shown when we've invited him to other interviews - so at least he's shown, but we're all wary it's just going to be the same old, same old, delay tactics again."

Protesters are threatening more action if Southern Response does not make satisfactory progress on their claims by 16 December.