Merry Christmas. Back on the 7th of January unless something out of the ordinary occurs before them.
This year a Persian Christmas card, from farsinet. Quite fitting really, as the three wise men were Persians.
Yesterday EQC made major changes to the wording of its web page on apportionment (here). The information now available is less than what was put up on the 4th of December.
If you are new to apportionment, information on the current page will not give you as good a picture of what apportionment is as the earlier material.
Of great importance is removal of information from the earlier version on what to do if you didn’t agree with your apportionment assessment:
What to do if you don’t agree with how damage has been apportioned
Where EQC hasn't done a physical assessment of damage after each event, we generally work out apportionment by allocating a proportion of the total damage value to each event (rather than allocating specific damage – such as broken tiles – to an event).
If you think you've been adversely affected by EQC’s apportionment of damage and you have evidence of damage on certain dates (eg, photographs), you can provide these to EQC and ask us to reconsider your apportionment.
This is missing from the latest version with no explanation as to why this has occurred. Now that it is gone, does that mean the opportunity to have your assessment reconsidered has now been wiped? How can it exist one day and then just disappear the next? Surely there is a right to have some review process, especially considering the on-going gross incompetence displayed by EQC assessors over the last two years?
The problems arising from EQC continually changing the content of it’s FAQ pages has been drawn to the attention of staff of the Office of the Auditor General. The grounds for this action were that it is a systemic problem of great importance to the general public, and that there may be issues of probity involved as well. We will have to wait to see what, if anything, happens. Sadly the long periods of time taken by public “watch dog “ organisations like the Audit Office and the Office of the Ombudsman to ponder the issues mean great harm is done while they deliberate.
Southern Response have published a web page explaining how they intend going about “co-ordinating our repair and rebuild programme including a broad timeframe for when your home will be repaired or rebuilt.”
The page is here and covers:
EQC have announced that drilling of TC3 land has now been completed. The media release (here) reads:
EQC’s geotechnical investigations into green zone Technical Category 3 (TC3) land have been completed – meaning approximately 10,500 Christchurch homes with foundation damage are a major step closer to being able to be repaired or replaced.
The geotechnical programme began in March 2012 in the city’s eastern suburbs. It was expected to be completed by March next year – but has been completed early.
The geotechnical investigations were required in order to get adequate information for foundation design. They aimed to identify or confirm soil characteristics for homes with foundation damage that are under the $100,000 (+ GST) EQC cap.
- The drilling was done in 50-metre grids and involved drilling bore holes to take soil samples, as well as cone penetrometer testing (CPT).
- Investigations were undertaken on 3,500 private properties, as well as roadside berms and reserves.
- Testing was not needed on every TC3 property – just those with foundation damage.
Drilling results have been progressively loaded onto the Canterbury Geotechnical Database, which engineers are using to help them design foundations in accordance with the Ministry of Building, Innovation and Enterprise’s requirements. The database can also be used by private insurers and others undertaking foundation design and repairs.
- The worst damaged homes are expected to be repaired by the end of 2013.
- All other homes will be repaired by the end of 2015.
IAG have issued a media release announcing, in general terms, the timetable for their repairs and rebuilds.
IAG is providing further certainty for earthquake affected customers, confirming when in the next two years all residential property reinstatements will begin – with the last scheduled to start no later than the last quarter of 2014.
IAG’s residential rebuild and repair programme involves 1700 rebuilds and 3000 major (overcap) repairs, which the company aims to complete by December 2015.
For more information on IAG’s repair and rebuild timetable, the media release can be found here.
CERA now have a web page to cover community issues and questions. Still in the early stages of development it will be based upon questions “developed by community groups for agencies working on the earthquake recovery to answer. Questions and answers are updated here online and a hard copy version will be available in January 2013.”
The page, which has two sets of questions but no answers as yet, is here.
The link here leads to an Australian legal website Lexology.com which in February this year published an article Are insurance contracts unfair? The article discusses whether or not insurance contracts are unfair, and if they should come under Australia’s Unfair Contracts legislation.
Since it was written there have been developments with insurance contracts now to be covered by a similar approach, but using existing insurance legislation (albeit in a dilute form from what was initially proposed). However it is a good backgrounder on what is happening in Australia. The Insurance Council of Australia’s perspective is here.
The Australian developments are important for us, as there is an on-going alignment of legislation between Australia and New Zealand (i.e. we end up doing what Australia has decided upon). In the context of unfair contracts, New Zealand law firm Buddle Findlay recently published an article Aligning trans-Tasman consumer law: New Zealand developments (here), and discusses the prohibition of unfair contract terms.
The effect of such legislation?
The prohibition will mean that a court may declare a term of a standard form consumer contract to be "unfair" if the term:
- Would cause a significant imbalance in the parties’ rights and obligations under the contract
- Is not reasonably necessary to protect the legitimate interests of the advantaged party and
- Would cause detriment (whether financial or otherwise) to a party if it were applied, enforced, or relied on.
What sort of specific situations might the legislation apply to? The writers provide the following on the Australian situation (general contracts, not insurance contracts):
CERA and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment have established a website for those who live on TC3 land. The website, Canterbury Residential Rebuild, is here.
The site describes itself as:
This website summarises relevant terms and information. It links to the organisations responsible for, and involved in, helping to rebuild your home.
The site will be updated with a wider range of residential rebuild content over the coming months.
It has information on:
And links for people who are:
The Catholic Diocese of Christchurch has released a diocese property earthquake update here.
The update includes the following:
Bishop Barry has provided information to parishes regarding the Diocesan Earthquake Strategy
In his letter he states that "Since the earthquakes, the diocese is working on two levels. A Strategy Committee is looking at the overall church and school needs for the diocese over the next 30 to 50 years, while on a more immediate level diocesan staff and professional advisors are looking at all parish properties that may be repaired and/or strengthened.
As you will be aware, the extent of repair differs greatly from no damage to demolition."
The webpage includes links to three downloadable updates:
Recently Red Zoned residents in the Burwood area have launched a petition to have the 30 April deadline extended. The following is from those organising the petition:
Over 80 households in the Burwood red-zone will not have homes ready to move into by the end of April. They have therefore launched a petition to request an extension with the following text.
Many red-zoned residents will not be ready to move out of the red-zone by the end of April 2013 for a variety of reasons for which they carry little responsibility. Most commonly, they have been unable to settle with their insurance companies or the homes they are building are not ready because of delays relating to titles for land, consents, shortage of building materials etc. Forcing them to leave in April has a number of potential negative consequences: the acceptance of unfavourable settlements, increased financial losses including the payment of rent, rental accommodation inferior to their present home; moving twice rather than once, loss of opportunity to relocate gardens, further disruption and stress. Forcing them into an already stressed rental market does not reflect wise decision making, neither from the point of view of those in the red zone nor others competing in the rental market. Nor does adding to the stress of those badly affected by the earthquake reflect the concern for human rights that should be an integral part of a democratic system and makes nonsense of stated concerns for the well-being of Christchurch citizens.
Any red-zone resident wishing to sign this petition or to collect signatures in their own area can contact Ngaire at email@example.com
In a media release dated the 11th of December ICNZ have taken the opportunity to reassure us all “ claims that insurers have sought to delay or avoid payments in Christchurch are urban myth”.
A page of superficial and un-researched arguments tell us everything that has been experienced or observed is not delaying tactics – it is actually insurance companies working flat out to sort and settle claims as fast as they can.
For those of you involved with commercial insurance here is some great news, you are an untold success story:
While much focus has been on residential claims, the untold success story is with commercial insurance where more than half of all business insurance claims are now settled.
Tucked in at the very end of the media release are a couple of sentences about why premiums are going up and the new way residential property is going to be insured:
Recent major global catastrophes and historically poor returns on long-term investments needed to meet new catastrophes are reasons why reinsurance costs have forced premiums up. To retain global reinsurance support, insurers will shift from open-ended home replacement polices to fixed sums and as always will continue to ensure policy contracts stand up to audit scrutiny.
They don’t seem to be desperate to alert us to major changes in the industry, do they?
The news release is here.
The Government has released released Volumes 5 to 7 of the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission report. Copies are available online at the Royal Commission’s website here.
These Volumes cover:
Yesterday’s Press carried an article Red-zoners call for more time by Charlie Gates (here). The basis of the article is that, for some people, circumstances totally beyond their control mean they cannot be out of their Red Zone properties by the 30th of April.
Part of the article refers to Minister Brownlee’s view of the situation:
Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee told Parliament yesterday that it was "unlikely" that red-zone residents would be able to stay in their homes after the deadline had lapsed.
"Given that to do that there would have to be maintenance of access and also infrastructure to those homes, it would need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis but I would have to say it is unlikely," he said. [note: can’t find this in Hansard so taking the Press on trust]
The impression given, and erroneously recorded for posterity in Hansard, is that because of the need to maintain access and infrastructure to the homes of those who need an extension, it would be unlikely they would receive an extension. The point missed by this statement is that not all those seeking an extension have problems with access or infrastructure. Unless the address and infrastructure details of those asking for the extension were known, and had been investigated, how could such a statement be made? Is it intended to make a case by case assessment? If so is there a list of those needing extensions? When, how and by whom is it being compiled? Not exactly a meaningful statement.
Or is there a quite different meaning? Is it just simply that it is unlikely that an effort will be made to do a case by case assessment? Why not? Too much like hard work? The people and their circumstances don’t warrant the effort? Or maybe there will be loss of face or the creation of some horrific precedent or squatter problem if a small concession is made, no matter how important it is to those who very much need it?
While Red Zone damage is, by definition, wide spread, there are locations where the infrastructure continues to function with little or no extra maintenance. Cowlishaw Street and Chaddesden Lane immediately spring to mind (and of course the residents still pay full rates because the council is still providing full services).
Why would Minister Brownlee make such an sweeping, and not entirely accurate, statement to Parliament? Assuming it wasn’t just an attempt to shut down criticism and moaning by creating the impression that nothing can reasonably be done, why say this?
It may well be that Minister Brownlee is not well informed of the situation, and can speak only on the basis of the briefings he has received. No doubt Minister Brownlee would rather endure Vogon poetry than speak with Labour or New Zealand First MPs, but surely he has spoken with his caucus colleagues from Christchurch Central and Waimakariri? I would like to think they have passed on the messages given to them that there are people stuck and they need an extension of time. Or is he deaf to his Parliamentary colleagues?
Perhaps if the Minister’s more able advisers were to talk with those who are stuck in the Red Zones, and relay the information accurately and fully to the Minister, he would be better able to understand what the problems are, how people are suffering, what is needed to be done, and keep Parliament more accurately briefed on the situation. Not to mention make some effort to assess the case by case needs of those stuck in Red Zoned houses.
As an aside, I hope Ministers get better information than was supplied to the Press for this article. At the foot of the article there are some pretty much meaningless statistics from CERA. Take the following:
The 97 properties red-zoned after appeal in August were given eight months to settle. Of those, 14 have already settled and moved out and 34 have signed a sale and purchase agreement, according to Cera.
What do the numbers mean? Nothing of relevance or use. They may create the impression that perhaps 48 properties out of 97 have found successful resolution but that is unlikely to be close to reality. More significantly, of the 97 properties how many have certainty that they will be gone by the 30th of April? That is the important number, and it isn’t there. Is this the level of information being passed to the Minister and/or his advisers?
With a Sum Insured policy the customer will be in control of establishing the value of their home and keeping it up-to-date, should they make any improvements or extensions.Fine, but how is this to be done? AA suggest the use of on-line cost calculators (they will have one), or getting a valuation from a quantity surveyor, valuer or builder. I am sure insurers will be happy to accept these figures for the purposes of setting premiums, however will they also be accepted at face value when a claim is made? Will AA, and others, seek to review the valuation in the event of serious damage or total loss? If so, which recent history has shown to be inevitable, how will this be done and on what basis? AA have made no mention of this.
By moving from square metres to Sum Insured, our customers will know upfront the most their insurer will spend to rebuild their home, in the event it does need to be rebuilt. They will also know they are paying the right price to insure their property, and that the specifics of their home have been taken into account.Is it really both the right price and the right amount of insurance pay-out? At the moment the answer seems to be no. No, because reading the latest AA policy document (online here) there is no definition of Sum Insured but there is a definition of Reinstatement value expressed as:
Reinstatement ValueThe costs to repair or to rebuild the home to a condition as similar as possible to when it was new or last enhanced, using common materials and methods, to a specification, size and standard comparable to the condition of the home immediately before the accidental damage occured, less any discount available to usTo begin with a few points of detail arise. What is meant by “similar as possible”, “common materials”, “(common) methods”, and “comparable to the condition... immediately before…”? Does this mean substituting pine for rimu panelling, particle board for kauri flooring? With the new policy, if you paid for rimu and kauri, and whatever else, should you not expect that it will be supplied, especially as media statement says “the specifics… have been taken into account”?
What do customers need to do?If customers are taking out a new policy with AA Insurance, they’ll need to provide an up-to-date estimate of their home’s rebuild value. There are some simple ways to do this. One way is to use an online building calculator such as those that have been in use for many years overseas and are now available in New Zealand. These calculators enable details of the home to be entered before providing a general estimate of the rebuild cost to work from. Another way is for customers to provide their own valuation by their quantity surveyor, valuer or builder.
However if they’re an existing AA Insurance home insurance customer, from 1 July 2013 they’ll need to check their renewal policy to approve the Sum Insured figure. An estimated Sum Insured figure will be automatically generated based on the existing policy for the customer to review, and will be adjusted each year to include inflation and general increases in rebuilding costs.
If their policy was renewed before 1 July 2013, customers can either wait until the following year for renewal, or change their policy over to the new Sum Insured at their discretion.
CERA have released the December issue (N0. 16) of the Greater Christchurch Recovery Update. You can download a copy from here. Issues covered include:
Southern Response have released their first annual report. A copy can be downloaded from here.
Monday’s blog (here) mentioned changes to how EQC would make it’s apportionment assessment, and that reference to the customer's apportionment estimate had been removed.
Yesterday EQC changed the page again, reinstating that part of the text to the way it was prior to Monday. The two paragraphs (here) now read:
Further evidence that EQC don’t know what they are doing, and the on-going absence of workable quality control?
A few weeks ago there was a post on more of the tactics used by hard bargainers (here).
Auckland barrister and professional mediator Nigel Dunlop has written the fifth and final article in his series describing hard bargaining tactics. This article describes the games used to put pressure on negotiations to force an unfavourable decision on someone as negotiations seem to be coming to an end.
The final instalment is on the NZLawyer online website here.
EQC today changed some of the layout of its Apportionment FAQ and added more text (here).
Perhaps the most significant change occurs at the end of the explanation of how apportionment works, with the removal of the paragraph (underlining added):
If there is no EQC assessment for every claim, then EQC looks at evidence such as the customer's apportionment estimate and the pattern of damage at similar neighbouring properties.
and replacing it with:
If the damage to your home wasn’t assessed after each event, EQC needs to use a variety of methods to establish how damage should be apportioned. These include comparing the damage with other properties in the area where we know what damage occurred and when it occurred. It also includes information provided by the homeowner.
Presumably the “customer’s apportionment estimate” contained in the old version was too inconvenient for EQC to live with, and so it had to be replaced by something that gave them more more wriggle-room.
One wonders under what authority EQC can keep changing the “rules”, whether they intend to make them retrospective, and how such changes ensures consistency of treatment throughout the assessment programme.
NOTE: some of the changes were reversed on the 4th of December – see here.
The Commission completed its work when it delivered the third and final part of its Final Report on 29 November 2012.
Any media enquiries about the Commission should be directed to the Department of Internal Affairs.
Any media enquiries about the Government's release of the Commission's Final Report should be directed to the Attorney General's office..
The most recent Bulletin of the Tokyo Institute of Technology contains an article on Japanese research into evacuation procedures in big cities after major earthquakes.
Based on the behaviour of individuals immediately after the 11th of March 2011 earthquake, the researchers have been looking at models of how people are likely to behave as they attempt to make their own way home, and the hazards they might encounter. Likely to be very pertinent to Wellington, which would have additional hazards from landslips.
From the Tokyo Institute of Technology’s website (here):
The Insurance and Savings Ombudsman (ISO) has posted more earthquake case studies on their website here.
In each case there was a dispute between the insured and the insurer which was referred to the ISO for investigation and a ruling.
The issues covered are
In reading the cases and better understanding the role and limitations of the ISO, it is increasingly clear that where there is doubt, or a conflict of versions, the benefit goes in favour of insurers.
The Royal Commission has made available a copy of the California Emergency Management Agency’s Safety Assessment Program Coordinator Student Manual. It can be downloaded from here.
This manual sets out training material for use by SAP (Safety Assessment Program) coordinators to ensure a standardised approach is taken to emergency situations (for California most notably fires and earthquakes).
The copy on the Royal Commission’s website was released in January of this year, and contains updates arising from the lessons learnt in the Canterbury earthquakes.
Southern Response have updated their progress statistics to the end of October. The chart is here. The Red Zone statistics make interesting reading and add to concerns that a number of people will not be in a position to leave by the 30th of April 2013.
Of Southern Response’s claims 32% are in the Red Zones. All 2,131 in the Red Zones (100%) have had their assessments and costings completed, 98% have had offers, and 87% made decisions based on those offers (numerically this is 233 yet to make decisions, and there are also another 43 yet to receive offers). In the notes with the statistics Southern Response flag this gap as an area of concern.
Southern Response also report 49% electing to buy another house, 21% taking a cash offer, 9% as a customer managed rebuild and 8% rebuilding with Southern Response (see the NOTE below about the statistics published in the report).
Of those building with Southern Response (164 houses) 21 have been completed. The remaining 143 are made up of 59 under construction and 84 not yet started. While Southern Response note that the construction numbers will increase (a somewhat meaningless statement as there are no figures given), the approach of Christmas can be expected to slow progress and mean an as yet unknown number will not be finished by the 30th of April 2013.
Rebuilds that are customer managed (184) are not fully reported so there is no way of knowing how much progress, if any, is being made and how many will be completed by April 30.
Southern Response’s share of claims in the Red Zones is 2,131 properties, less than one third of all Red Zone dwellings. If their experience is typical of the progress being made then there are many hundreds of claims, decisions, and rebuilds experiencing delays, indecision, and the increasing possibility of not being completed by April 30. If Southern Response has progressed more quickly than some other insurance companies then the situation is worse. Actual numbers can only be speculation however it does seem there may be anywhere between 200 and perhaps 400 or more cases of households unable to move out come 30 April. That is a lot of grief if CERA decide to trespass and evict them.
NOTE: Some of Southern Response’s percentages don’t give a clear picture of what is happening, being worked out on the overall number of claimants rather than on those in a particular category. An example is the statistic that 49% of claimants have elected to buy an existing house, a statistic based on the number who have chosen this option (1,045) compared with the total number of claimants (2,131) rather than the number of who have made decisions (1,849). In this situation it would be more indicative of what is happening to say 57% of those who have made decisions decided to buy an existing house.
When it gets to the number being rebuilt the percentages become increasingly meaningless. Rather than complicate life I have used Southern Response’s figures above, but they need to be reworked a little to have a better understanding of what is happening.
The Royal Commission has published more of the evidence provided for the hearings on the CTV building.
The documents can be found here or by going to the document library (here) and searching by putting Madras 249 in the building filter (upper right of the screen). Unfortunately the search results, for the moment at any rate, are not presented in date order.
If you want to get an idea of what best practice looks like for repairing a bathroom, or having a new one built, there is a Gib best practice guide just out. It may come in handy to see if what you are being offered comes close to being best practice.
You can find it here.
In the most recent EQC Annual Report (here), EQC Chairman Michael Wintringham stated on page 4 that there was an incentive for insurance companies to minimise their own costs by attempting to pass them on to EQC or elsewhere.
In this environment, there is an incentive for insurers to reduce their own liabilities by shifting costs to the Crown or to other parties.
It would not have been out of place if he had continued to say that not only were there incentives for insurance companies to shift costs elsewhere, but also strong incentives for them to minimise costs by attributing as little value as possible where damage had occurred. The most obvious example is the exercise to turn rebuilds into repairs. Less obvious would be classifying some damage as pre-existing, or proposing repairs that weren’t like-for-like.
Insurance website insuranceNEWS.com.au reported today (here) that both VERO and the Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) reject Mr Winteringham’s statement and provides a lengthy exposition of both VERO and ICNZ’s position.
The report ends with the following:
New ICNZ CEO Tim Grafton wrote to Mr Wintringham, copying the letter to Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee, saying the comments convey a false impression and the council’s members reject any suggestion they would manipulate or reduce their own liabilities by inappropriately placing them on others.
Mr Grafton, who started at ICNZ a week ago, told insuranceNEWS.com.au he intends to work constructively with the EQC and wants to make it clear insurers will meet their legal obligations.
“The insurance companies are very clear that they will not be moving beyond the strict confines of all, or any, contracts in place in the wake of the Canterbury earthquake,” he wrote.
“Members of the Insurance Council feel strongly that the words used indicated that insurers may act in an unethical way and this will not be the case.”
My first impression on reading this was – yeah, right.
The New Zealand Herald has reported the case of a Christchurch man who threatened to set fire to himself as a protest against the treatment he was receiving from his insurance company (here).
The circumstances are complicated, as they often are, and the relationship between the man and his insurer had got to a very bad state. Considering the rough handling a number of us have had from EQC, insurance companies and others it is not a surprise to hear that the relationships deteriorated as much as it did.
As all the power resides on one side of discussions and negotiations, an increasing number of people have diminishing respect or tolerance for those inadequate or incompetent (and amoral?) employees of the insurance industries they have the misfortune to be forced to deal with. Sadly these employees are not being sufficiently guided, controlled or mentored and the checks and balances that are supposed to be in place just don’t seem to work until situations become desperate.
Perhaps Minister Brownlee might like to direct some of his plain speaking to the wider insurance industry? Maybe time for an in-depth review of the performance of the insurance industry?
EQC have made some modifications to the information on how damage assessments are arranged, carried out, and how health and safety considerations influence what they are able to do (EQC page here).
Amongst other things EQC now state that the assessor will be accompanied by an estimator with a specific level of qualification (LBP or Licenced Building Practitioner).
The revised text reads (coloured bits are the additions):
After you've lodged your claim, an EQC assessor will phone you to make a time to visit your property and carry out a full assessment.
This is a detailed appraisal of the damage to your home. It will be carried out by an assessor and an estimator (licensed building practitioner).
The EQC representatives will inspect:
The EQC representatives won't be able to enter any areas that they believe are unsafe.
The previous version of the same information read:
Back on the 2nd of August there was a blog item Dealing with hard bargainers, in which the bargaining tactics used by professional, and at times less than scrupulous, negotiators might use (think people working for insurance companies, EQC, ACC, government policy people and cabinet ministers). The blog item was based on articles written by Auckland barrister and professional mediator Nigel Dunlop (here).
Nigel Dunlop has written another article about dealing with these sorts of people called Still more hard bargaining tactics. In the article he covers ten tactics of which he says:
The 10 further tactics described below involve a heavy dose of pretence and deception. I am not necessarily advocating their use. As mentioned in my previous articles, the use of tactics should have regard to considerations of ethics and personal style. However, knowledge of the tactics enables defence against their use.
1. Representative cloak
2. Phantom player
3. Disguising opinion as fact
5. Red herring
7. Trial balloon
8. ‘Predicting’ a favourable offer
9. ‘Failing’ to understand
10. Appearing irrational
The full article is here.
The Archbishop of Canterbury visited Holy Trinity Avonside this morning to meet parishioners and earthquake affected locals.
The first photograph is of Rosalyn Deane from Holy Trinity talking with the Archbishop.
The second photograph is of the Archbishop talking with Guyon and Kylie.
The New Zealand Red Cross is appealing for donations to help those throughout the Caribbean, United States and Canada who have been affected by the hurricane and need relief and recovery assistance.
Click here for the Red Cross site.
From the NZ Red Cross website (here):
New Zealand Red Cross has identified a gap with regard to young people affected by the Canterbury earthquakes and their access to trauma recovery resources. In response we have joined forces with Youthline and some of New Zealand's top musicians, athletes and TV personalities to create an online community with advice and support for youth experiencing hard times.
You can find out more about this on-line community at the Address the Stress website here.
To help avoid confusion, and protect residents from people pretending to be Fletcher/EQR contractors, Fletcher’s have put the following information on their website (here):
We have had recent reports that homeowners and other occupants are being telephoned by people falsely representing themselves as accredited contractors, with the apparent purpose of creating opportunities for burglary.
We would like to ensure that you know what to expect when we get in touch with you about your repairs. If you receive an approach that doesn’t stack up, you should treat it with suspicion.
This is what happens when we contact you for the first time ...
- You will be contacted by a Fletcher EQR staff member based in one of our Hubs. The first contact will not be from a contractor.
- The scoping visit – when we visit you to review the damage to your home and prepare a Scope of Works – always involves a Fletcher EQR staff member (one of our contract supervisors). It will also involve a contractor representative, and often an EQC staff member as well.
If you haven’t heard directly from Fletcher EQR but you are contacted by a contractor's representative you should ask:
- What is your name?
- What is the ID number on your Fletcher EQR identification card?
- What is the name of the company your work for?
- Which Fletcher EQR Hub has referred you?
- What is the name of the contract supervisor you are working with?
Having asked those questions you should be able to assess whether the approach is legitimate. You can also refer to our Hub contacts page – www.eqr.co.nz/contacts - and call the relevant Hub to confirm the information supplied by the caller.
We advise you not to provide any information to a caller unless you’re absolutely certain about their identity.
Finally, any Fletcher or contractor staff who come to your home in connection with repairs should be able to produce the relevant identification card.
In the blog on EQC’s Michael Wintringham’s reply to CanCERN (here), community group REAC was mentioned twice.
Residents EQC Action Campaign (REAC) represents those who have been failed by EQC’s two year history of on-going ineptitude.
Still in it’s formative stages, REAC is so far endorsed by: Addington Action, Beckenham Neighbourhood Association, CanCERN, CowPats, FIRST Union, Hobgoblin Network, Parklands Recovery Group, St Albans Residents Association, TC3 Residents Group, Travis Country Residents Group, WeCan.
You can read more about REAC here.
The Royal Commission's Terms of Reference require the examination of and reporting on a representative sample of buildings. The majority of these are reported on in Volume 2 of the Royal Commission's Final Report.
The document’s made available yesterday are the supporting technical information underpinning the Royal Commission's examination of the following buildings (click on the building name to go to the report):
The link here is to EQC Chair Michael Wintringham’s response to CanCERN’s request that a new CEO be appointed to EQC.
The response was predictable. Given the lack of action to correct the on-going systemic problems exhibited by EQC it was unlikely that the Board of EQC was going to suddenly see the light. The important thing is CanCERN has put the matter on record. A record that remains open.
To my mind Wintringham’s response is yet another smoke screen where the realities of EQC’s continuing bad performance is masked by tenuous claims of having made great efforts to improve the lot of those who have claims with EQC. Tenuous claims such as:
As it stands the CEO of EQC has the Chair’s full backing. Presumably this backing has the full support of the Board who are comfortable in thinking EQC has performed acceptably. Time will tell if they are correct. I’m sure there was a time when the Board of ACC had a comfortable feeling.
Finally, if Mr Wintringham feels that the tone of CanCERN’s letter was antagonistic, I’d love to be around when REAC start pounding on his door.
Postscript: For those who, like me, thought the the name Michael Wintringham was vaguely familiar, it may be because of publicity relating to WINZ CEO Christine Rankin. There is a New Zealand Herald article of July 3, 2001 relating to that issue here.
Most people who have had dealings with EQC are aware of the organisation’s numerous shortcomings, invariably resulting in personal and family frustration, confusion, delays, stress, and hardship.
Two years past the first earthquake and EQC still fails to demonstrate any ability to work with its clients in an open, effective and civilised way. Senior managers have fiddled with different approaches to carrying out their business, always tinkering and seemingly subservient to the needs of overseas reinsurers and indifferent to the needs of New Zealanders. Time for a change at the top.
Two days ago CanCERN wrote to Michael Wintringham, Chair of the Board of EQC, requesting that a new CEO be appointed (the text of the letter is below). The media release and report mentioned in the letter are also below.
If you have views on this please make an effort to express them. Gerry Brownlee, who is the Minister responsible for EQC, knows about Facebook so that would be a good place to start.
(NOTE: EQC Chair Michael Wintringham has responded to the CanCERN letter. See the blog regarding EQC’s response here. This note added 26/10/2012)
Attention: Michael Wintringham
23 October 2012
Dear Mr Wintringham
Canterbury Communities’ Earthquake Recovery Network (CanCERN) was established immediately following the September 2010 earthquake in Canterbury to ensure the residents of the worst affected communities had a voice within earthquake recovery. We currently have a membership of over 40 resident based groups.
During the past two years, we have sought to work collaboratively with most earthquake related authorities and organisations to identify ways in which the recovery could be improved from both a resident and organisational perspective. We have been meeting with staff from EQC since late 2010. During this time we have seen very little evidence of the leadership necessary to lead the Earthquake Commission through a natural disaster of this scale.
EQC Executive Leadership Team has performed at an inappropriate level. A number of these managers have failed to respond successfully to the ever growing and varied accounts of failure, both systemic and operational, which have been raised directly and indirectly over the past two years.
There has been an overall neglect of duty with regard to addressing issues of claimant communication, operational adaptation, professionalism and customer service.
Due to consistent failures as detailed in the accompanying report, we ask for the Chief Executive to be replaced with someone is who more capable and competent to deal with the situation we have.
If you would like to discuss this, please do not hesitate to contact Leanne Curtis.
Please note the attached media release is embargoed until Thursday 25 October, 7am.
The world of the earthquake-affected is generally aware the Government offer to Red Zoners, and especially the maximum settlement date of 30 April 2013, was premised upon a number of factors that haven't materialised, assumptions that turned out to be unrealistic, and a lack of foresight by those who set the date and manufactured it's justifications.
Since the setting of the date the situation has been exacerbated by more earthquakes and incompetence in critical places. Despite this the Crown Offers drawn up before the obstacles created by EQC, insurers, and the market in general, changed the playing field completely, are the objects of gross intransigence.
The biggest issue for those wanting to rebuild is failure of the market to meet the needs of Red Zoner’s. A primary failure is in making available, on time, suitable sections for those entitled to rebuild. The NZ Herald reported yesterday (here) that the Minister of Finance Bill English told Parliament "housing affordability remains a deep-seated, complex and serious problem,'' and “Despite demand for low cost houses, relatively few are being built - in part because of the very high cost of land, particularly in Auckland,''. The idea the problem “remains deep-seated” is important here. This is not a recent discovery – the problems associated with affordable housing have been around for a while. Clearly this is Christchurch’s problem too.
Along the way an expectation was created that suitable land would become available, people acted upon that expectation, and it hasn't happened. Why did CERA help create this expectation? Was it a mistaken belief, or politically soothing misinformation? Whatever the cause, the fact remains that many of those entitled to a rebuild won’t have a new home before the 30th of April.
How is CERA dealing with the conflict between the impending deadline and the externally inflicted inability to move on?
CERA ran an extensive campaign advising people to take their time and make a considered decision - now CERA wants to pressure them into hasty action to meet an increasingly meaningless deadline.
The pursuit of the 30 April deadline is further victimising those who have suffered not only earthquake damage but delays caused by EQC, delays caused by their insurance companies, and massive market failure. CERA's conduct in this matter just heaps further misery upon those least able to do what they want to do - get out in one piece.
As we look about we see many people being harmed by the blinkered, intractable, and brutal officiousness they keep encountering. We see them aging prematurely and harming themselves through anxiety and inappropriate coping. The University of Canterbury has research to demonstrate this. How long will it be before we have our first acknowledged "death by CERA"? Will this become an emotional cancer taking it's toll for decades to come?
What has the greatest value to CERA - the 30th of April or human wellbeing? They can’t have it both ways.
The University of Canterbury yesterday published results of research into how people in four suburbs were coping with post-earthquake stress.
On the website Rebuild Christchurch (here) the two research projects are described without identifying the suburbs concerned. The New Zealand Herald (here) identified the suburbs as Avonside, Cashmere, Hornby and Mount Pleasant.
It is probably no surprise to read these observations in the New Zealand Herald:
Clinically significant levels of acute stress were identified across the suburbs, but clinically elevated depression and anxiety were only evident in the most affected suburb - Avonside.
Levels of drinking, anxiety and depression were higher in Avonside and Mt Pleasant, compared to the lesser-affected other two suburbs.
The following are extracts from the Canterbury University’s post on Rebuild Christchurch:
Participants in the more affected community reported greater symptoms of depression than the less affected community a year after the February earthquake. Prolonged periods of helplessness and ongoing post-disaster disruptions, along with distress and anxiety were factors associated with depression.
The more physically affected community were dealing with ongoing daily disruptions, shovelling silt from liquefaction all over again following large aftershocks, loss of utilities, living in severely damaged houses and for others relocation as their homes became uninhabitable with further quakes, loss of neighbourhood and many community social networks had gone.
In addition there was an increase in alcohol consumption reported as a result of the quakes and is an important finding especially as increased alcohol use is a common characteristic of depression following disaster as people try to cope with stressors, and is consistent with previous post-disaster research.
Southern Response have added a brief outline to their website on how they will be responding to claims from those on TC3 land.
The outline (here) reads:
Southern Response is stepping up its repair and rebuilding activity on properties on technical category 3 land (TC3) as part of its overall Canterbury rebuild strategy.
Over the next few weeks we are writing to all of our customers with TC3 homes whose rebuild or repair plans are not already underway, urging them to press ahead with their insurance settlement election. If our TC3 customers want to rebuild their house we can then get their home into our pre-design queue immediately.
We have a number of projects already underway on TC3 land - currently more than 600 properties are in our pre-design and build queues; of those 191 are in design/documentation, seven are currently under construction, and two are completed.
Letters will go first to TC3 customers who have received a Decision Pack and not yet advised us of their settlement election.
Copies of the covering letter, information sheet and FAQ’s can be accessed from the bottom of the page (here).
SCIRT are inviting people to inspect the new walk/cycleway next to the rebuilt part of Fitzgerald Avenue alongside the Avon Loop.
There is more information here.
Building & Housing (formerly the Department of Building & Housing) have released information on what the technical categories mean.
This will be mainly of interest to those in Green zones, many of whom are struggling to understand what is going on.
The link here takes you to a video and transcript with explanations on the categories.
As mentioned earlier (blog entry here) CERA have now extended their Wellbeing survey to all who want to have an input. People are asked to complete the survey only once, however ever person in a household is welcome to have their say.
The survey takes about 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the level of effort you want to put into it. The survey is here.
Despite the distractions of living in Orange and Red zones, and having to deal with EQC and other dim-witted & at times dubious organisations, Gail has been working away on two essays for a book Selling the Dream.
The following is from the website associated with the book (here):
Selling the Dream is the first dedicated and extensive celebration of tourism posters and other publicity that helped promote New Zealand – both locally and to the world – until the 1960s. This was a pivotal period in the history of New Zealand publicity – before television and colour photography changed the publicity landscape forever – creating not only a tourism marketing proposition but a sense of national identity as well. The imagery is some of the finest graphic art ever produced in New Zealand, and as arresting and impressive today as when it was first created.
Published by award-winning New Zealand publisher Craig Potton Publishing, the book is a 408-page, large-format, high-end production with close to 1000 images and 11 specially commissioned essays.
Min, the Avonside Blog’s cat, went to meet his Maker early yesterday evening.
The epitome of resilience, he survived five years living homeless in the area until accepting our invitation. Three years on, and after numerous trials and tribulations, enough was enough.
Southern Response have updated their website with information for those awaiting either rebuilds or repairs, and wishing to stay in their existing damaged property until then. The following is from the new section (here) :
What should you do if you need temporary repairs to your house?
We are sometimes asked to do temporary repairs to a customer's home to make it more habitable and comfortable, before the main repairs are done, or before the house is rebuilt. This might cover things like cladding or roofing, insulation, drainage or removal of liquefaction.
If you believe your property needs temporary repairs for you to be able to remain living there, please contact us to talk about your situation. We look at each request individually, taking into account all circumstances.
We need to ensure our customers live in weathertight, secure homes that they are able to heat, and that their home is structurally safe to live in.
Temporary Repairs for Rebuilds
If your home needs repairs so that you are able to remain living there until it is rebuilt, the cost of doing these repairs will most commonly come from your temporary accommodation allowance or, if you choose, or from the funds allocated to rebuild your house.
We will ask you to enter an agreement that the cost of the repairs will:
- Come from any temporary accommodation allowance you may have through your policy with us, or
- Be repaid to us by you if you choose to take a cash settlement rather than build with us, or
- Come from the rebuilding funds if you choose to rebuild with us, or
- Be funded by an advance from us, which will be repaid by you before your rebuild begins.
We also need the agreement of any financially interested party (bank etc) before we can proceed with a temporary repair agreement.
Customers will need to have a clear understanding that if they proceed down this proposed temporary repair path using rebuild funds, they will have less settlement funds from Southern Response to finally repair or rebuild their home.
Temporary Repairs for Repairable Houses
If you need repairs done so that you can stay in your house until the main repairs are done we will see if we can bring forward some of those repairs to enable you to remain living there.
We will only pay for repairs to any part of your house to be done once. If temporary repairs would have to be redone as part of the main repairs, we are likely to choose to cash settle your entire claim so that you can manage the repairs in your own timeframe.
Food and Drinks
Trash ‘n treasure
Be surprised at the range of community stalls.
See how our churchyard garden is being developed.
BRANZ (Building Research Association of New Zealand) have a free two page download called Post-earthquake Plasterboard Repairs. It is a digital version of the article that appeared in the August/September edition of their publication Build (No 131).
The article covers the problems associated with using plasterboard as a bracing element, the type of repairs that might be used, and the result to be expected. A very useful tool to check against what has been specified for your plasterboard repairs.
For Red Zoners who have been classified as a repair, comparing the repair method proposed by EQC or an insurer against what the article says may be a useful reality check.
As always, the issue is not about the most economic repair for the insurer, it is about what your insurance policy entitles you to.
Lincoln University are conducting an on-line survey to see how prospective home buyers view the risk associated with land zoning (TC1, TC2, TC3) and the likelihood of flooding, how this affects the price they are willing to pay, areas prospective buyers prefer, and construction preferences.
The survey, Residents’ perceptions relating to residential property in Canterbury post the earthquakes is open to all who want to participate and starts here. The survey is for both homeowners and renters. A few questions are detailed however you can leave a question unanswered if you wish. Some questions were unclear when I did it, so left them blank.
The following introductory information is from the Lincoln website.
Professor Sandy Bond from Lincoln University is currently conducting research to investigate householders’ perceptions towards the impacts of the Canterbury earthquakes on the residential property market. The 22 February 2011 Canterbury earthquake had a devastating impact on Christchurch property with the significant damage caused to land and buildings. As at July 2012, 7541 properties have been zoned Red, including 406 properties in the Port Hills - that is, the land damage was so severe that it is uneconomic to be repaired and will not be able to be rebuilt on. The overall impact on the residential property market has been dramatic with the initial number of sales stalling due in part to difficulty getting access to insurance and mortgage finance.
EQC have updated their website to provide more detail on what apportionment means, and how it is worked out.
From the EQC website.
Many Canterbury homes have suffered damage from more than one earthquake.
Settling claims where damage has been caused by a number of successive ‘events' is much more complex than settling claims from a single natural disaster. That's because EQC cannot assess the overall damage and settle the claim on that basis. We must attribute – or apportion – the damage to individual events.
How apportionment is worked out
If your home has been assessed after each event, apportionment is straightforward – we'll have records of the damage that occurred with each quake.
However, because of the number of successive earthquakes and aftershocks that have caused damage and been classed as 'events', in the majority of cases it hasn't been possible to assess the damage each time.
Therefore, for the majority of homes, EQC needs to use a variety of methods to establish how damage should be apportioned. These may include:
- any actual assessment(s) completed by EQC
- looking at information provided by the homeowner or private insurer about the damage caused by each event
- analysing the damage to other similar homes in the area.
They continue with some examples of how apportionment works. Other issues covered are:
CERA have released the October issue of the Greater Christchurch Recovery Update (here).
The more or less useful contents cover:
CERA have published the Cabinet paper and Minute mandating CERA to lead and promote the recovery of the Christchurch Central Business District.
Lots of detail spread over 38 pages. The papers can be downloaded from here.
CERA have released the data and maps used as part of the zoning review. They are very detailed and much grief might have been avoided had they been released as part of the review process.
From the CERA website (here).
These documents contain all the area-wide geotechnical information which was considered by CERA as part of the process for making flat-land zoning decisions, and the subsequent zoning review.
These reports include mapping of ground cracking, liquefaction and lateral spreading observations, LiDAR ground elevation and vertical ground movements.
At the end of the each report is a summary of the area-wide geotechnical considerations and map citations.
They are written in plain English where possible, but do contain technical information where this is necessary to accurately explain the nature of investigations, and the effects of the earthquakes on the land.
The documents are available in PDF format and cover these areas (click on the area name to get the document) :
From a CCC media release (here):
Christchurch will receive a symbolic aerial salute this Friday, as the United States Air Force makes a spectacular arrival the city to mark the opening of the 2012/13 Antarctic Season.
The afternoon of Friday 28 September will run with military precision: arriving over the Pacific from Hawaii’s Hickam Air Force Base, the US Air Force C-17 Globemaster will bank in over New Brighton Pier at approximately 1.05pm, weather permitting. With a flight path that includes Chisnallwood Intermediate School, the C-17 will then make its way across the city at an altitude of 1300 feet. At approximately 1.15pm, over the NZ IceFest site in Hagley Park, personnel on board the C-17 will photograph the word “ICEFEST” on the ground below, as spelled out by a formation of visiting schoolchildren.
On Monday 1 October, the C-17 will transport Scott Base and McMurdo Station personnel south to Antarctica, enabling scientific work to begin over the summer – the “Antarctic Season”.
The following is from the latest CanCERN newsletter.
We have been asked to promote this survey to interested participants. The project, Communicating Earthquake-related Science, is being undertaken as part of the requirements for a University of Otago PhD.
The survey looks at how aspects of earthquake-related disasters, and ways of minimising them, are being communicated in the mass media and whether this is serving people’s information needs.
The questions asked of participants relate to their opinions about how earthquake-related information, and how to minimise disasters, is communicated. Click here for the information sheet about the survey and here to follow the link to the survey.