15 Aug 2017

Fewer than half Kaikōura quake claims settled

9:02 pm on 15 August 2017

Fewer than half the claims on northern South Island homes damaged in the Kaikōura earthquake have been settled, the Insurance Council's latest report shows.

An example of the extent of the damage to homes north of Kaikōura.

An example of the extent of the damage to homes north of Kaikōura. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

It also showed almost 90 percent of affected residential properties have been assessed and the total value of claims from the quake had reached almost $2 billion.

Some homeowners in the badly hit southern Marlborough town Ward had cut their losses and moved on.

Ward homeowner Ross Ward said he and his wife were living in a horse truck after their 1930s cottage was written off by the magnitude-7.8 quake. They were now living in a sleep-out, while watching the walls go up on their new home after accepting a settlement.

"We accepted what insurance offered. I thought it was a nominated value, but we took into account the fact Christchurch is still arguing."

Ross Ward

Ross Ward and his wife are building a new home after their old cottage was destroyed in the quake. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

Mr Ward said they had to extend their mortgage to help pay for the cost difference on what would be a comfortable, but not extravagant, house.

He said the decision to settle had helped with his emotional recovery from the quake.

"Time's a healer, but I still get very nervous with aftershocks. But I'm definitely better and every day's a new day."

He and his wife hope to celebrate Christmas in their new home.

Other Ward residents endured the winter with makeshift heating and were still waiting on final settlement for their claims.

Candi Callaghan said their fireplace had been reinstated and cracks in the walls had been blocked half way through winter. Nine months after the quake, she is among those still waiting for final settlement.

Candi Callaghan, who works at the Ward Primary School, is still waiting for resolution on her quake-damaged home.

Candi Callaghan, who works at the Ward Primary School, is still waiting for resolution on her quake-damaged home. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

"I have had an assessment done on my home but I'm yet to hear anything further. So, I haven't heard ... I haven't had a scope of work yet but apparently my assessment is with the quantity surveyor at the moment."

Ms Callaghan and her young children were hoping their settlement would come before 2018.

Insurance Council chief executive Tim Grafton said it was confident most people would receive a settlement offer by the end of the year.

Insurance Council chief executive Tim Grafton

Insurance Council chief executive Tim Grafton Photo: RNZ / Jonathan Mitchell

Insurers were acting as agents for the Earthquake Commission (EQC) and were managing most of the claims, Mr Grafton said, and claims were a lot further ahead than they might have been under EQC's traditional model.

The bulk of claims were for commercial properties in Wellington, with the damage extending well beyond the upper South Island.

"Priority was given to the most-damaged residential properties and the most vulnerable properties, and those were in the upper South Island. So, 86 percent have been assessed there, which is way ahead of other parts of New Zealand affected by the November 14th earthquake."

Mr Grafton said of that number assessed, 43 percent of residential claims had been settled or partially settled.

He said part settlement might cover an initial payout for things like home heating.

The time between assessment and settlement offer for residential properties was typically between four and 12 weeks.

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