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Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Advocacy support - problems with insurance companies

The Sunday Star-Times, as reported on the Scoop website, ran an article on Sunday about the problems a few earthquake-affected policy holders have with their insurance companies.

Written by Lois Cairns, the article describes the problems experienced by a small number of policy holders whose houses have been declared a total loss, yet they are expected to continue paying premiums. The policy holders feel they should not have to continue paying premiums, while the insurance companies insist that they must. As the Office of the Insurance and Savings Ombudsman could not become involved in the issue the matter has been referred to the Insurance Council. Lois Cairns' full article can be found here.

Only recently mayor Bob Parker voiced the opinion that advocacy support was not needed (see this page here) because:
"Homeowners with unresolved issues can take these up with the Ombudsman (for EQC issues) and with the Insurance and Savings Ombudsman (for private insurance company issues). There have also been calls for a separate, independent advocacy group, which have not been support by Bob Parker."
"Bob Parker is to meet with the Ombudsman soon and said he hoped that the insurance industry could address complaints and concerns without the need for a new entity."
Already the Insurance and Savings Ombudsman has failed to provide advocacy support, instead passing the responsibility to an organisation even less capable than they are of handling such matters. 

Considering all the problems that could arise between claimants and insurance companies, the current issue is very small and has shown the Office of the Insurance and Savings Ombudsman is not suited to providing support to policy holders with a complaint or dispute. It needs to be noted that advocacy support is not, and was never intended to be, part of their role. 

Hopefully the mayor will tell us very soon how he got on with his talks with the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, the Office of the Insurance and Savings Ombudsman, and the Canterbury District Law Society over dealing with issues such as these, and the much bigger ones that are soon to surface.

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