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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Survey of former residential red zone owners who accepted Crown offers

CERA is currently surveying all who were Red Zoned and accepted the  Government’s (Crown)  offer.  Research company Neilsen are conducting the survey and invitations to take part started going out via e-mail on the 14th (last week).

If you were Red Zoned, and took the offer, you should have received a survey invitation by now. If not it is likely to be the result of a change of e-mail address since the Crown offer process started. Whatever the reason, you can participate by ringing Neilsen on  0800 400 402.

If you are cautious about taking part in case it resurrects stresses and demons best left buried, Neilsen offer the following advice in the first part of the survey:

We hope that you will find the survey experience positive, but we understand that many former property owners may find the issues it covers difficult and taking part may bring back mixed emotions. If you find this to be the case we encourage you to consider calling the Canterbury Support Line on 0800 777 846 or to contact a trusted friend. You are free to stop the survey at any time.

Should your caution be motivated by cynicism or mistrust you won’t be alone. Never the less give thought to at least looking at the survey. If you don’t have your say, your views won’t be in the mix.

The survey is structured in an unusual way that may, or may not, fully and accurately capture the issues and experiences of Red Zoners. There are two parts for some participants to fill in, and one for others. Each part has a wide range of questions.  It may be you will find the questions don’t address issues that were, or still are, important. This can be saved up for the final part of the survey where there is (at least in the draft I have seen courtesy of Neilsen and CERA) an open-ended question:

Finally, please add any comments or suggestions you would like to make, particularly any suggestions about what more could be done to help people in the future if their properties are in the worst affected areas following a natural disaster.

Take the opportunity to say what you have to say, there may never be another chance. Were there stresses that the survey overlooks  (e.g. being in the limbo of an Orange zoning, having to relocate while the Ministry of Education was restructuring schools)? Were there services that just weren’t up to it and so you didn’t use them  (e.g. a medical centre or other health service you thought incapable or unwilling to give the help needed?)  Anything else? Mention it now; include the things that worked, as knowing what worked is as important as knowing what failed. 

Unfortunately for some, the survey is designed to be completed on-line (another example of not acknowledging the electronic world is inaccessible or alien to many?). Even those with computers and the skills to use them may have difficulties – many of us were brought up as part of a paper based and reflective culture where time was available and drafts were used to ensure we said as clearly as we could exactly what we meant. If you know anyone who would struggle to do this perhaps you could help them, or maybe ring Neilsen and see what support they can offer. The Human Rights Commission and others may have something to contribute here.

The following is CERA’s release intended for those who haven’t been contacted about the survey:

CERA is conducting a voluntary, confidential online survey of former residential red zone property owners who accepted Crown offers for purchase of their properties. The survey is intended to help the Government, local authorities and communities in responding to any similar situations that might come up in the future.

CERA has contacted former property owners (or people who acted on their behalf) directly, but some people's contact details have changed in the past couple of years. If you're a former residential red zone property owner who accepted a Crown offer for purchase of your property and haven't received your invitation to participate, please contact Nielsen, the independent research company carrying out the survey on CERA's behalf: 0800 400 402.

Monday, October 5, 2015

THX 4 THE MEMORIES - Avonside photographic exhibition now online.

The 22nd of August 2013 was the official opening of the Avonside photography project Thx 4 the Memories exhibited along Worcester Street.

It consisted of photographs of Avonside people by Bridgit Anderson and Tim Veling along with snippets of their Red Zone experiences as recorded by Glen Busch (original post here).

Tim has put together an online book that recreates the exhibition and you can find it by clicking on the first link below. Eventually, once numerous obstacles are overcome, there will be a print version available.

Tim has a dedication and endurance second to none and continues to record what is happening where we once lived and how it will all eventually turn out. Tim has done other projects as well and the second link takes you to the projects part of his website.

Thx 4 the Memories
then click on the book cover just below the video.

All Tim's projects


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

More support for legislative changes covering insurance non-disclosure

The Insurance Business New Zealand website reprorts that dispute resolution service Financial Services Complaints Ltd (FSCL) supports the Insurance and Savings Ombudsman’s view legislation is needed to deal with non-disclosure and insurance claims. The article is here.

The following are extracts from the article:

“We are a step behind overseas jurisdictions like Australia and the UK.

“I think the government should be taking a closer look because the current law is very old. There have been, I think, two Law Commission reports saying it’s time for the law to be looked at.”


Residential Red Zone offer feedback sought

CERA is seeking feedback on their Preliminary Draft Residential Red Zone Offer Recovery Plan. Comments must be submitted by 5.00pm on the 19th of May.

The Draft plan starts off by explaining the “why?”.

The purpose of developing the ‘Residential Red Zone Offer Recovery Plan’ is to assist the Crown (through the Chief Executive of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (“CERA”)) to determine whether it should make new offers to buy vacant, commercial and uninsured properties in the residential red zone and, if so, how such offers should be structured.

However, before the plan there has to be a draft plan.

This is the Preliminary Draft Recovery Plan, notified for public consultation on 5 May 2015. This Preliminary Draft is the first opportunity for everyone to provide their views. You do not have to be an affected property owner or live in greater Christchurch to have a say. This public consultation is an important first step. The Preliminary Draft is in essence a discussion document, which sets out the key contextual information and developments. It focuses on the key questions the Crown will need to consider about the vacant, commercial and uninsured red zone properties, and it asks for your views. It does not predetermine what any final Crown offer will

A copy of the draft plan is available here and you can make an online submission part way down the page here.

There are two pages of information designed to explain what is happening and why. Click on the page name shown in red to go to that page.

  1. Public to have say on red zone offers – background to the court case over payments to some living in the Red Zones, the court ruling, how this process is designed to ensure all who are affected (directly or indirectly) and how to have your say.
  2. Questions and Answers – a series of questions, with supporting answers, to help clarify what is going on. The questions are:
    • What was the decision made by the Supreme Court?
    • What is a ‘Recovery Plan’?
    • What is the Residential Red Zone Offer
    • Recovery Plan – Preliminary Draft?
    • Why do you need me to comment?
    • Will this Recovery Plan decide what the offer will be?
    • What happens next?

The Cabinet Paper setting up this exercise is here.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Legal class action against Southern Response?

Wednesday’s Press has an article Southern Response class action ‘no win, no fee’ here.

The proposal, offered by law firm GCA lawyers, is for “disgruntled customers of a major earthquake claims-holder to join "no win, no fee"class action lawsuit.”

Sounds too good to be true (and potentially is). Click on the link to continue.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Insurance Ombudsman wants insurance legislation to cover non-disclosure of information

The Insurance Business New Zealand website is reporting that the Insurance and Savings Ombudsman Karen Stevens supports legislation to better protect customers relating to information they disclose to an insurer. The following are extracts from the article (the full article is here).

Karen Stevens says legislation would mean an insurer could only avoid a policy where it could show the non-disclosure was deliberate.

Some cases are clear, where people deliberately leave out information they were asked to provide, knowing that it will go against them. However, in other cases, people accidentally leave out information because they have forgotten, or do not realise it is important.”

The current law requires a consumer to disclose to an insurer all information a ‘prudent underwriter’ would consider important. But, said Stevens: “This is extremely difficult for consumers to understand.

“My concern is that consumers don’t understand the consequences of not providing the information.

However, she said: “Industry self-regulation is not enough on its own. We need to review the law and make changes to stop consumers getting themselves into a situation where they are uninsured and, in many cases, uninsurable in the future.”

Later in the article the views of Insurance Council of New Zealand CEO Tim Grafton are aired. These include the following:

"Tim Grafton, CEO of the Insurance Council of New Zealand, maintained the New Zealand was, in fact, one step ahead on the subject.

So, we have no problem about addressing this issue - indeed we are ahead of the curve.  What is important here is insurers' approach and the new Code addresses the issue.”

Tim Grafton's comments are not, in my view, an accurate reflection of the situation.

As mentioned in some detail on this blog (17th of March here) the Fair Insurance Code does not come close to the lead set elsewhere, especially the U.K., with regards to information disclosure. New Zealand legislation based upon the U.K.'s Consumer Insurance (Disclosure and Representations) Act 2012 is where we should start. Insurers in New Zealand have not shown themselves to be trustworthy, and are certainly quite unsuitable candidates for self regulation where so much is at stake for the general public.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A plan followed by consultation for the outstanding red zone Crown offers

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has decided that everyone can have a say on what level of pay-out should be provided to those in the Red Zones who have been ineligible so far (uninsured owners of land and property).

It is hard to tell whether the Minister has suddenly been overcome by a desire to indulge in participatory decision making or it is a device to allow public participation to be used as a shield for yet more delays followed by the same decision as before.

The news release is reproduced in full below. The original is available on the Beehive website here.

Release Date: 21 April 2015

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced a process to give everyone a say on the Crown offers to owners of vacant, commercial/industrial and uninsured properties in the Residential Red Zone.

"I have asked the chief executive of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) to prepare a Recovery Plan that looks at the offers to property owners in these categories," Mr Brownlee says.

"Following a legal challenge by the Quake Outcasts group, the Supreme Court directed that the decision on the offer to properties in these categories should be revisited and that a Recovery Plan was an appropriate approach."

Owners of properties in these categories in the Port Hills red zones have not yet received an offer.  An offer will be made to them on the basis of the outcome of the Recovery Plan but will not be less than the offer already made to those in the flat land red zones.  Consideration will also need to be given to those who did not accept the earlier offer and those who had a reduced offer as a result of significant underinsurance.

"The Recovery Plan process allows us to consider the different options, and for people to give their views based on what it means for the property owners, as well as the taxpayer and how people insure their properties," Mr Brownlee says.

"If the process results in a larger revised Crown offer from that which has expired, then those owners who accepted the original offer will be eligible for a top up of their payments.

"There will be two stages of public input through written comments in the development of the Recovery Plan, and CERA will be publicising those opportunities.

"Following the analysis of the public input and advice from officials, I expect the Recovery Plan to be finalised and decisions made in relation to the Crown offer by the middle of this year."