Insurance claimant advocate, Ali Jones, says a number of key questions remain around the announcement that EQC will take on the remaining Southern Response claims at the end of this year.
Earthquake Commission Minister, Hon Grant Robertson, said yesterday that “as claim numbers reduce, it no longer makes sense for the Crown to have two organisations processing the remaining Canterbury claims.”
Jones says she is concerned that the “small number” of 300 outstanding claims that the Minister says should be left at the end of this year, does not take into account the more than 3000 that could result from an unsuccessful appeal by Southern Response regarding the Dodds ‘double DRA’ case.
“I am also aware that a significant number of SR claimants have been sent letters from the insurer in the last few months – some received as recently as yesterday – that advises them of a dollar amount deposited to their account, and says unless SR hears from the claimant to the contrary, they consider the claim is settled. So, are all these claims now considered settled and are not included in Mr Robertson’s figure of 300 claims? If people do take issue with SR’s position that their claim is sorted, will they be taking that up with SR or EQC? Is Southern Response’s intractable position around cosmetic repairs to structural foundations (using epoxy injection) – a position that has been shown to be unsubstantiated and contributes to failed repairs in a significant number of cases – going to be something EQC will continue to promote? Is SR’s interpretation of what is “new for old” as per the AMI Premier policy that many claimants have, and what is “as new”, going to be followed by EQC? These are just some of the questions claimants really need clarity around,” says Jones.
The transitional SR CE has been announced as Casey Hurren, who is currently the General Manager Legal and Strategy (was EQ Strategy Manager from 2012). He was in these positions during the controversial spying allegations, the withholding of information from claimants, and Jones says for an organisation that has been so keen to use lawyers to grind people down and frustrate the resolution process, this is an interesting move.
“SR has spent millions in the last eight years on legal costs. EQC has, to their credit, recently pulled unresolved cases out of the courts as they rightly identified the issues are primarily technical and not legal therefore the courts are not the place for them. In contrast to that, SR has continued with a Deny Delay Defend approach which has seen hundreds if not thousands of people, incur legal costs and get bogged down in the court process – which is long, hard and expensive.”
Jones says she hopes the many questions that remain around the transfer of unresolved claims from SR to EQC will be promptly answered satisfactorily so that people can understand exactly what is going on, as they continue to get their lives back almost nine years after the earthquakes in Canterbury.