Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Insurance follies

A few Christchurch stories that ought be read together.

Item the first: Insurance companies seem to be deliberately dragging their feet so that policy holders will give up and take indemnity payments.

We were insured with AMI. Its Christchurch Earthquake claims are now being handled by government-owned Southern Response, carved out of AMI before the rest of the business was sold to IAG. They have told us that out-of-scope claims like ours - the parts of the claim that are solely covered by private insurance and have nothing to do with the government's Earthquake Commission coverage - will be assessed "within 3 to 5 years". They haven't answered emails about the out-of-scope claims where the damage is getting worse because it's not been repaired. I think that they hope that I'll give up and fix everything myself out of pocket so they can then refuse to pay for the repairs. The "insurance is a scam" feeling gets stronger.

Item the second: If you want to have the terms of your insurance contract enforced, you need to sue them.

Item the third: The government has made it a bit hard to route around its preferred project managers, Fletchers. We have opted out because we wanted to specify our own builder, and we hope that will turn out well. Going with Fletchers seems a lotto ticket with a lot of downside variance. Read the comments section for different homeowners' experiences. The best advice I've there seen: videotape your whole house before the builders start and video it again afterwards.

Item the fourth:
An insurance advocacy service for quake-hit Cantabrians will be smaller than originally planned, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says.

In July the Christchurch City Council voted unanimously to ask the minister to establish an insurance tribunal and advocacy service in the city.

The service was being managed by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority and would help residents battling for information about when, or if, their homes would be repaired.

A spokesman for Brownlee said the need for such a service was "no longer as great".

"The need is lesser than it was and the [service Cera is] designing will reflect that."
I'm sure that this is because Brownlee figures everything's going well so the programme isn't needed rather than because successful advocacy would increase the government's liabilities via Southern Response. I'm rather glad that the University of Canterbury's Law School is here helping out.

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