28 Feb 2023

Owners of red-stickered homes urged to have patience dealing with insurers

12:14 pm on 28 February 2023
Generic image of insurance, homes, houses.

About 10,000 people used the predecessor Greater Christchurch Claims Resolution Service following the quakes. Photo: 123rf

The government's Claims Resolution Service has only been operating for a week but dozens of people have already sought help settling their insurance claims for cyclone damage.

Director Darren Wright says people might need guidance with understanding engineering or quantity surveying reports or to help with dealing with an insurer, following devastating weather across the North Island over the past month.

Hundreds of homes have been red-stickered, a phrase made famous during the Canterbury quakes. The new service, launched last week, replaces the Residential Advisory Service and the Greater Christchurch Claims Resolution Service, which proved to be successful with insurance companies in the aftermath of the quakes.

About 10,000 people used the predecessor Greater Christchurch Claims Resolution Service.

So far nearly 200 people have sought help from the new service, which provides legal, engineering and wellbeing support for people dealing with property loss following natural disasters. Wright expects many more to get in touch in the near future.

"It's incredibly early days for us - not only in terms of the service being stood up, but just in terms of the event itself. We really wouldn't expect people to come into our service until significantly further down the track.

"It's incredibly hard to forecast [just how many]. We've certainly got the experience from Christchurch and other events that we've been involved in, but you know we'll be here to support the numbers that do need our help as things develop."

He said the service is not getting complaints about insurance companies, which appear to be getting short-term assistance to claimants promptly.

"It's a bit of a challenge for those people who are affected by the slips where the house isn't damaged, but we're working with the insurers around what their response might look like to try and help those people."

One Muriwai resident, whose house is on the same street as a slip that destroyed a neighbour's house and killed two firefighters, told Checkpoint on Monday she was struggling to get help from her insurance company because nothing on her property was damaged.

Wright said insurers were "under the pump", so claimants needed to have some patience.

"A significant number of people who have been affected by these events and insurance call centres are certainly being slammed at the moment . [We] ask people to, you know, try and exercise some patience to make sure that insurers have got the time to get on top of this."

Some people contacting the Claims Resolution Service were yet to even lodge a claim, he said.

"[We] really encourage everyone to get those claims into the insurer so the insurer gets a good picture of actually what the damage is and what the priorities are. At the moment we know they're focusing on those people who don't have homes to live in, and those people who have vulnerabilities.

"So if you're in your home, please just lodge your claim and then have some patience. They will get to you, but it's not sort of helping anybody when lots of people are phoning in all of the time."

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