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Saturday, July 6, 2013

AA Insurance - Sum insured for Canterbury customers – cover for retaining walls (bad news for Wellington and Auckland too?)

AA have updated their new policy information to include two questions and answers relating to retaining walls (they are basically the same question put twice) here

While the answers have significant ramifications for most Cantabrians on the hills, or with multi-level sections, the effect of extending this limited level of cover throughout the country will be massive. Many hillside properties in the main centres will lose a significant amount of their appeal and also their market value.

The questions and answers are:

How can I ensure that I have enough cover for retaining walls?

Currently our policy will have a $10,000 limit for the construction of all retaining walls, which means this is the most we will pay for your retaining walls to be reinstated in a future claim, regardless of your total Sum Insured.

My home is in the Port Hills – how can I ensure that I have enough cover for retaining walls?

Currently our policy will have a $10,000 limit for the construction of all retaining walls, which means this is the most we will pay for your retaining walls to be reinstated in a future claim, regardless of your total Sum Insured.

Friday, July 5, 2013

EQC & DBH - deviousness with house floor levels?

Adrian Cowie, Director of Topografo Ltd., has written an article pointing out the inappropriate (incompetent and deceitful?) practices being used by EQC on the basis of the Department of Building and Housing’s less than professional amendment to building guidelines.

It is a very interesting article to read. If your house has a sloping floor reading the article is critical.  A link to the article is in the latest CanCERN newsletter, or the article itself can be found on the Rebuild Christchurch website here.

For those who wonder about Mr Cowie’s credentials (which are both impressive and substantial), they are listed at the bottom of the CanCERN version of the article here.

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Thursday, July 4, 2013

New EQC booklet - Settling land claims

EQC have released a new booklet that provides a summary of the land settlement claim process. There is information in the booklet on:

  • What land is covered?
  • The six steps in the settlement process.
  • Progress
  • The land settlement pack
  • Repairs
  • Timeframes
  • Complex claims

For the last point EQC consider complex claims to involve land with:

  • Increased vulnerability to liquefaction
  • Increased vulnerability to flooding
  • Shared land claims (for example, multiple dwellings on a single title)
  • Land with damage to structures such as retaining walls, bridges and culverts

A copy can be downloaded from here.

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Sum Insured update – AA Insurance’s guidelines for Canterbury homeowners (and the rest of the country)

AA Insurance have added a whole set of Q&As to their website for Cantabrians, to assist in coming to grips with the new method of insuring houses.  As AA Insurance seem to be the trendsetters for sum insured house policies, the information on their site will be good background material for those insured with other companies. Useful reading too for homeowners outside Canterbury, particularly those in earthquake or flood hazard areas.

The Q&A information applies to both those on the flat, and the hills. Significant questions arise for those on TC3 land (foundation costs), also on TC2 (foundation costs), and everyone in a damaged house. There are differing but equally significant questions regarding foundation costs and retaining walls for those on the hills (retaining wall liability to be capped at $10,000 irrespective of amount factored into the Sum Insured value).  There is no indication that the liability for retaining walls is to be inflation adjusted so the sum may become worthless within a few years.

Unfortunately the answers don’t provide much practical information, but carry the on-going theme that homeowners are responsible for getting it right, and keeping it right, and the insurer takes no responsibility if the sum insured figure is incorrect. 

The bottom line is every property owner wanting to get it anywhere close to right will need to pay to have a value determined for the foundations and rebuilding of their property, along with the costs of demolition and removal of the old property plus all planning, consents and permits.  A great unknown is whether insurers will accept this sum should the property be damaged or destroyed, or if they will continue the current policy of creating their own valuation in an attempt to raise doubt and reduce claims.

A very important omission is information about what happens if the sum insured value is determined to be inadequate by the insurer. Will the insurer pay up to that amount, or decree that the consequence of being under-insured is that only a discounted amount of the insured sum will be available (i.e. you will be financially penalised for being under-insured, as currently can happen)?

Also omitted is any information on how the policy, the sum insured, and the associated premium, coexist with EQC cover. 

For those outside Canterbury there is silence on the issue of insured sums incorporating foundation requirements. If you live somewhere such as the Hutt Valley, Blenheim, or Dunedin will TC3 level foundations have to be factored in? Land in parts of those places (and elsewhere) is just as vulnerable to earthquake damage as here in Canterbury. What restrictions will local authorities apply to rebuilds, and how can these be incorporated into sum insured totals? What about flood issues where rebuilds may require raised foundations? Who are affected, or are likely to become so? How can that be determined?

Preparing a homeowners assessment and checklist looks like a priority job for the housing people at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). In addition, they could usefully maintain a database of local authority requirements, monitoring where foundation construction and height changes have been made. CERA’s land zone maps would be the ideal template to ensure consistent levels of information are provided.

Also needed is a prompt and thorough independent review of insurance disputes processes,  from how they are first handled through to the operation and utility of the insurance Ombudsman. The Canterbury earthquakes have shown how inadequately the processes operate, despite many years of operation in a known and stable environment. Only insurers and politicians tout that the process is working, their attitude founded fundamentally upon a desire to protect the wealth of insurers and re-insurers, rather than issues of due process or natural justice. With a totally new and significantly more complex range of policies coming into effect the current processes just will not do.

The Q&A can be found on the AA Insurance website here (bottom half of the page). The page also includes information for the rest of the country. The Canterbury questions and answers are listed below.

Click the link to continue …

Monday, July 1, 2013

EQC - Timeframe for settlement of under $15,000 claims

The following is from the EQC website (here).

July 2013

EQC expects to settle all single-dwelling under $15,000 claims (standard) that don't have structural damage by the end of October 2013.

This will include your claim if:

  • your overall home repairs will cost less than $15,000 (+ GST)
  • you don't have any structural damage integral to your building
  • you don’t have any urgent repairs outstanding
  • your claim or claims refer to a single dwelling rather than a body corporate managed property or multi-dwelling.

There are approximately 20,000 properties still to be settled. So far, EQC has settled approximately 20,000 dwellings with under $15,000 claims as at the end of June 2013.

EQC update - Canterbury FAQs

EQC have updated their Canterbury FAQs here.

The change involves the addition of a new section on cash settlements where claims are under $15,000.  You can find them toward the bottom of the page, or click on the link just below to continue reading them on the blog.