Most businesses hopeful about Christchurch recovery

Press Release – Vero

Research just conducted in Christchurch shows a surprising number of businesses are confident about the future of the region. Over 78% of businesses said they expect the local economy to improve within the next two to five years.Most businesses hopeful about Christchurch recovery

Research just conducted in Christchurch shows a surprising number of businesses are confident about the future of the region.

Over 78% of businesses said they expect the local economy to improve within the next two to five years.

Survey group UMR spoke to 400 Christchurch businesses last month. The survey was commissioned by Vero Insurance and is the most comprehensive qualitative and quantitative research conducted on business attitudes in Christchurch since the earthquakes.

Findings of the survey indicate more optimism than recent commentary suggests with 70% of business owners predicting long term profitability in Christchurch.

Speaking to local brokers today, Vero Chief Executive Gary Dransfield noted that the earthquake response of the Government and CERA was well regarded by businesses.

The performance of insurers and the Christchurch City Council was not as well received.

“I am pleased that the research highlights the fact that people believe the Government and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority are doing a good job in responding to the disaster and the management of the recovery effort.

“You cannot have a successful disaster recovery plan without strong leadership. People need to feel confident about the direction their leaders are taking them – and that they have a vision for life after the disaster and a plan to deliver that vision,” he said.

Mr Dransfield said he understood that there was community frustration at the pace of claims handling and reinstatement.

“I also understand that the processes insurance companies must follow in managing claims can often seem unduly complex.

“I spend a considerable amount of time in Christchurch and know there is no lack of commitment or effort on the part of our claims management people here and throughout New Zealand who are working to meet the needs of customers who have suffered because of the earthquakes.

Vero was making good progress with its claims, Mr Dransfield said. “We are managing over 22,000 claims from 1,800 damaged commercial properties and over 5,550 domestic properties.

“So far we have paid out over $900 million to commercial customers for claims and around $120 million to personal customers.” These are figures that undoubtedly add to the confidence in the local economy.

Responses indicated that business owners were keen to see more progress in the rebuild while their expectations were that it would take over 10 years for Christchurch to be fully rebuilt
There is a clear preference for the CBD to be rebuilt in its current location with 88% believing that regardless of individual preferences, that is what will ultimately happen.

“Effective communications are fundamental in a crisis recovery situation and Christchurch is no exception. Of course, communications without demonstrated progress or response to specific concerns can add to frustration.

“That is a major challenge for insurers and government in Christchurch. We need to talk more about what has been achieved, while ensuring there is a clear understanding of the obstacles to future progress and the long duration of the recovery.”

“The UMR research highlights the fact that businesses in Christchurch expect more from those involved in the earthquake recovery – that message has been received and is well understood at Vero,” concluded Dransfield.

About Vero
Vero New Zealand is a world class Kiwi general insurance company that helps and protects the people and businesses of New Zealand. Through our parent company, Suncorp Group Limited, we are part of one of the largest financial and insurance operations throughout Australia and New Zealand.

With over 900 staff in 17 offices nationwide, we are committed to providing a world class service, underpinned by our four Values – Integrity, Customer Focus, Excellence and Expertise.

Vero has been voted insurance company of the year by insurance brokers in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2010.

ENDS

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