The Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust (OWCT) has confirmed on-going fire insurance for its buildings, including the Criterion Hotel and Loan and Mercantile building, in the Victorian Precinct of Oamaru. However, the Trust’s insurers have declined to provide cover for other serious events including earthquake and tsunamis. The change in position is the result of recent seismic events in Canterbury and affects all policy holders, not just the OWCT. The Chair of the OWCT, Phil Hope explained:
Like a number of building owners we find ourselves in a situation whereby our insurance providers have changed their policy regarding earthquakes. We have looked at alternative options however the cost of new earthquake cover would exceed our existing premiums considerably. We understand Dunedin property owners have faced similar issues. The Trust will undertake a series of discussions with tenants on the implications of this change.
Waitaki Councillors will further discuss this at the Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday 25 October. Officers have confirmed, while the Trust’s insurance cover has been reduced, it is still sufficient for an existing loan, agreed as part of the 2010/11 Annual Plan. A Council spokesperson noted:
The market for earthquake insurance has changed significantly for pre1935 buildings. However, Council has been advised the scope of insurance cover retained by the OWCT is sufficient for the $500,000 loan agreed by Council over buildings in the Victorian Precinct. We recognise and understand the challenge facing the Trust in the wake of the two Canterbury earthquakes and look forward to continued dialogue on this matter.