Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 131

Press Release – New Zealand Labour Party

A regular bulletin started by the Labour Party’s Christchurch electorate MPs, Clayton Cosgrove (Waimakariri), Ruth Dyson (Port Hills), Lianne Dalziel (Christchurch East) and Brendon Burns (Christchurch Central) to keep people in their electorates and …Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 131

A regular bulletin started by the Labour Party’s Christchurch electorate MPs, Clayton Cosgrove (Waimakariri), Ruth Dyson (Port Hills), Lianne Dalziel (Christchurch East) and Brendon Burns (Christchurch Central) to keep people in their electorates and media informed about what is happening at grass roots level.

CANTERBURY EARTHQUAKE RECOVERY PLAN

Labour will:

* Purchase 1500 properties and sell them at cost to red zoned residents
* Ring-fence $100 million as compensation for home improvements
* Release all available geotechnical information
* Resolve the insurance gridlock
* Intervene in the insurance market as a last resort
* Make community engagement a priority
* Use youth unemployment to fill the skills gap
* Establish an independent insurance commissioner

For full policy details go to: http://www.labour.org.nz/news/leadership-needed-to-rebuild-canterbury

CLAYTON COSGROVE: I attended a residents meeting last night where major insurer IAG/State fronted up to earthquake victims. The meeting was attended by IAG/State area manager, Deanne McGregor. Residents expressed angst over a number of failings, which had increased their frustration and stress levels. Concerns were raised about conflicting information being given by call centre staff and claims managers, emails not being answered, calls not being returned and information which was readily available on their files not being released. What was clear from the meeting is that basic claims management processes and consistent assessment practices were not in place. While earthquake victims can appreciate the increased volume of claims faced by insurance companies it is hard to accept that basic off-the-shelf processes were not in place to deal with their claims. At the meeting Mr McGregor gave a commitment to issue a directive to all IAG/State staff that where information is on file it should be released to clients on request. While this is a welcome development it is hard to understand why it has taken a year for these sorts of issues to be addressed. As one person put it at last night’s meeting “I have paid insurance premiums all my life only to be forgotten about in my time of need”.

BRENDON BURNS: I continue trying to get as much clarity as possible for constituents desperate for information, especially currently on their zoning. Yesterday’s cross-party forum provided some insights though the picture remains far from clear. Minister Brownlee had announced last week that he expects CERA to provide an update to all orange zone homeowners within a fortnight. That caused CERA to postpone a major meeting tonight with the St Albans/Richmond community. What update they and the rest of Christchurch will get next week would appear yet to be finally determined. Some area wide geotech information is already available but CERA’s geotech engineers have been ‘pepper-potting’ hundreds more sites across orange zone areas to improve the picture. This plus the area-wide information and any data collected during EQC assessments helps make a composite assessment. Meanwhile the Department of Building and Housing is doing trials on what is the most cost-effective way to build new foundations on damaged land. There are three categories – effectively the three shades of green that we are now becoming aware of, ranging from land with little or no damage through to badly damaged land, which would require expensive new foundations to build on safely. Next week’s announcement provides another opportunity for CERA to engage with communities desperate to be entrusted with the picture of their land status, even if it’s an interim assessment.

LIANNE DALZIEL: I have been approached by a few constituents who feel that they have been unfairly snookered by the government red zone offer and the insurance industry. These are the people whose insurers say that they will only offer the cost of repairing their houses. But the insurers wouldn’t be able to get a permit to repair the house. Why? Because it is in the red zone. Why is it in the red zone? Because the land is uneconomic to repair So if the land has been written off, why are the insurers not obliged to offer the replacement terms of the policy? And that’s the question my constituents want answered. In the Cabinet Papers supporting the original announcement the government planned to provide a dispute resolution mechanism for disputes about whether the house was a rebuild or a repair. That hasn’t eventuated. Although that is important, because those that dispute the costings have to hire their own builder or quantity surveyor, it misses the more fundamental question, which is why it is a given that the insurer only needs to offer the cost of repair when the property is red zoned and cannot in fact be repaired? My constituents want answers. There needs to be an urgent test case so that the legal situation s made clear before they make their decision.

RUTH DYSON: Well, flooding was just what we needed to round off the year! There were major breaches of both the Avon and Heathcote rivers well before high tide and significant flooding in many suburbs, particularly Bromley. Thank goodness the weather forecast is better for Thursday but I know there will still be quite a few major cleanup projects tonight and tomorrow. My office has had a lot of contact from people keen to get their contents claim in by this weekend so that they can meet the EQC payout time of before Christmas. EQC has said that if you have your contents claim in and all the information is provided they will pay out before Christmas. Unfortunately, lots of people just do not know how do get items valued or can’t afford the fees. The promise of getting payment back for a valuation or a quote for repair to an item as opposed to the cost of replacing it is quite simply out of the financial reach of some people. I don’t think that EQC or the insurance industry get what has happened to people here and if they want claims information, they might need to do more than setting up a few claims processing centres. Many people have replaced essential items, have huge losses and no money…and declining energy and increasing frustration. A responsive, empathetic approach is needed from the industry!
Authorised by Clayton Cosgrove, Parliament Buildings Wellington.

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