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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Getting claim information from your insurance company

In our area a few of us have been getting together to sort out insurance problems with a particular company. Standard story: rebuilds have become repairs, or high value repairs have turned into low value repairs. Invariably the amount of information provided by the insurance company has been conflicting and inadequate.

The key to our being satisfied about what is going on is to get all the information the insurance company holds. There are two ways of doing this: paying a lawyer to get it for you, or trying a DIY approach. This post is for the DIY people.

What has the insurance company been doing and what is it up to?

To come to grips with the way your insurance company is treating your case, it is important to have all the insurance company documentation in front of you: to see what has changed over time, what has been factored in, what has been left out, what is contradictory, and what is plain wrong. Insurance companies are reluctant to give this information out, and sometimes refuse. Clearly this serves their purposes as many assessments have been of doubtful quality, or skewed towards a lower cost solution, and won't stand up to scrutiny.

In understanding why they behave like this it is important to appreciate that insurance companies often don't operate with the values we feel are important: decency, fairness, honesty, integrity or openness. Their only functioning corporate value is to not get caught doing anything unlawful. If this seems harsh, remember insurance companies (where there is a high value at stake) have a tendency to take an untrusting and sometimes suspicious approach to claimants, fearing there may be dishonest motives behind the claim.There is no reason why this approach cannot be reciprocated.

Using your legal rights (click the link to continue)

Friday, May 11, 2012

EQC - Apportionment

This morning's Press has an article C'mon EQC, explain apportionment by Will Harvie (here). It is a good read and pointedly questions the whole process.

EQC  responded (reproduced below), without saying anything of much use, drawing attention away from how it is being done by describing why.  I have underlined one sentence, just over halfway done the response - notice how homeowners aren't considered to have a financial interest in the whole process. Not only that, it seems it is not important to maintain our confidence either (next paragraph).

The following is from EQC's Facebook page:

EQC Customer Services GM Bruce Emson replies to a blog post from the Press' Will Harvey: (click the link to read the rest)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Changes to education in greater Christchurch

The Education and Tertiary Education Ministers have today released a draft programme to guide the renewal of the education network in greater Christchurch following the Canterbury earthquakes.

As has become increasingly common in recent years a critical piece of social policy is to be changed with just a couple of weeks available for public comment.

The intention of the programme is set out on the Ministry of Education's website here and is to provide:
A strong education system, from early childhood to tertiary, will be critical to the redevelopment of greater Christchurch and its economy in the wake of the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.
This is why the Ministry of Education and Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) have worked with the community to develop a draft Education Renewal Recovery Programme that will meet the educational needs of children and young people and support social, cultural and economic recovery.
The draft programme has been developed based on your feedback to the Shaping Education engagement process and the knowledge and expertise of educational leaders, teachers, city and business leaders and Ngai Tahu.
We invite you to read the document and provide your comments so you can be a part of confirming the Directions for Education Renewal in greater Christchurch.
The Ministry's website gives access to the draft programme and there is a page where you can "have your say" (here).

The joint ministerial statement is here.
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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

EQC - Another update to TC3 information

EQC have updated it's Land information - Technical Category 3 (TC3) page by adding links to useful DBH and EQC documents plus an informative article from the Press.

You can find it here, near the bottom of the page.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tenancy information and advice session

From the Department of Building and Housing’s website (here)
The Department of Building and Housing, in partnership with the Tenants Protection Association, is running a tenancy information and advice session for Christchurch tenants. This session is an opportunity for tenants to have their tenancy questions answered and to find out helpful tips for dealing with earthquake-related tenancy situations. At the end of the session, tenants will also have the opportunity to have some one-on-one time with staff from the Department and the Tenants Protection Association if they would like some specific advice about their own individual situation.
When: Thursday 24 May at 11:30am
Where: Linwood Community Corner Trust, Linwood Avenue Union Church, 378 Linwood Avenue, Christchurch
Cost: Free

Monday, May 7, 2012

CERA - Red Zone workshops Q & As

At the various CERA Red Zone workshops a great deal of time was spent on recording residents' questions. The most significant ones were answered (more or less well, depending upon the calibre of the industry representatives attending) at the end of the evening, with CERA undertaking to find answers to all of the questions and make them available.

CERA now have a web page, Red zone community workshops, where the Q & As from the first workshops have been uploaded. The web page is here.

So far there is information for:
  • Kaiapoi workshop - 8 February 2012
  • Christchurch workshops 10-20 October 2011

Some of the stuff consists of basic question to which the answer is so generic (or weasel worded) nothing is gained or at best is only half answered. Perhaps CERA could invite community input to ensure earnest and essential questions are better answered.

Other questions, while also basic, elicit useful answers, such as these insurance ones from the Kaiapoi workshop:
Can I request my file?  -  Under The Privacy Act 1993, you are entitled to request any information your insurer holds about you. If there is specific information you would like, please ask your insurer for this as this can be given to you more quickly than your entire file.
Why is information not transparent between client and insurance companies?  -  Your claims case manager should be able to give you all the information you need to know about your claim. If there is something you would like to know they are the best people to speak to.
Why are reports not released to clients?  -  Most insurance companies will share the full scope of works and costings with you at the time of offer. If this is not automatically sent to you, speak to your claims case manager.
NOTE: if your insurance company will not release the information you request, you do not have to use their internal complaints mechanism to complain. Advise them, instead, that you will take the matter up with the Privacy Commissioner. If you find this prospect intimidating, just go straight to the Privacy Commissioner.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner exists to help with these sorts of problems. Their main website is here. The information about making a complaint is here (in some browsers you need to scroll down a bit).
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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cathedral update - clarifying misunderstandings about the Transitional (Cardboard) Cathedral

Coverage of activities around the Cathedral, funding applications, money to build the Transitional Cathedral, and the safety of the remaining structure is at best patchy. Views expressed are often high on emotion and short on substance. These views are recorded uncritically in the media and the result is an unbalanced and incorrect record.

The May issue of Cathedral Extra (available here) has, on page 7, the following item
Misunderstandings Clarified
Recent articles in The Press appear to have caused some misunderstandings about the Transitional Cathedral.
  • No ratepayers’ money is being sought for building the Transitional Cathedral. The Diocese of Christchurch has approved $4 million from insurance monies. Final detailed costings are being undertaken at the moment, and the build budget will be strictly controlled. The Cathedral is not seeking and will not seek any funding from the Christchurch City Council to pay for the building of the Transitional Cathedral.
  • For the ten year period up to 2011/2012, the Cathedral received CCC funding for two reasons: in acknowledgement of the civic functions, concerts and exhibitions that the Cathedral undertakes (e.g. ANZAC Day Citizens' Service, Kidsfest, Christchurch Youth Orchestra, Antarctic Festival Service and many others) and for the use of the Cathedral land in the Square for civic events (like welcomes for visiting dignitaries and New Year’s Eve celebrations.) We did not apply for CCC funding in 2011/2012 because the Cathedral was too badly damaged to undertake civic functions and there was no public access to Cathedral land in the Square.
  • We are seeking a CCC Metropolitan grant in 2012/2013 because we anticipate that the Transitional Cathedral will undertake some of the same civic functions as the Cathedral in the Square. In addition we hope it will stimulate tourism, encourage people to return to the central city, and support the rebuild of Christchurch as a whole. The CCC have, of course, every right to turn down the funding application, although we trust that they will judge it on its merits.
  • Council funding in the past has been on the basis of use of the Cathedral for civic events and public use of Cathedral land only. CCC have never asked for a role in the governance of the building –that remains vested in the Cathedral Chapter, the Standing Committee of the Diocese and CPT as the buildings owners, and it was their duty to make the decision about the future of the building after the CERA S38 notice.
  • A Transitional Cathedral will not postpone or slow down the building of a cathedral in the Square. It will offer a home, a place of worship and a house of prayer for the Cathedral Community for the next ten years. After this, the building will continue to serve as a home for the parish of St John's, Latimer Square.
  • Many in the Diocese and beyond have been married or ordained or installed in the Cathedral. Others have worked for hours to create a floral carpet or have slipped in for a noon Eucharist or simply to pause in the midst of a busy day to remember God’s love and mercy. Every Christmas children would come to place a gift under the Christmas tree and whole classes would sing their song on the chancel steps. There have been concerts and memorial services; civic occasions and times of corporate sorrow and grief when hundreds have gone to the Cathedral for solace. It is with very heavy hearts that we make the decision about lowering the Cathedral walls for the sake of safety. We continue to pray for all who are broken hearted about this decision and look forward to a time when we are able to gather again in the heart of the city.
The Ven. Lynda Patterson, Acting Dean of the Cathedral
Rev Craig Dixon, Cathedral Marketing & Development Mgr
The Rt. Rev.Victoria Matthews, Bishop