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Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Advocacy support - problems with insurance companies - Part 2

Yesterday's post on problems with insurance companies arose from a report in the Sunday Star-Times. It related to people whose houses were damaged beyond repair yet still having to pay insurance.

Monday's Press looked into the issues from a different perspective (p. A5) and the article is worth reading (it was on the Press website here on the 1st). Apparently, if pushed, some companies are considering offering a discount, while others are not.

The part I found most interesting was the statement made by the chief executive of the Insurance Council:
Insurance Council chief executive Chris Ryan said he was aware of more complaints and understood some insurers were reconsidering their prices.
"My understanding is that some of them are having a bit of a think," he said. If customers were unhappy, they could shop around for a new policy, he said.
Perhaps Chris Ryan wasn't thinking clearly when he suggested that unhappy customers shop around for a new policy. His suggestion is absurd, and likely to be offensive to those on the receiving end of it.  Claimants are looking for fairness, rather than the run-around and impractical suggestions. 

Recall that some of the complainants first went to the Office of the Insurance and Savings Ombudsman, to be told they should take the problems to the Insurance Council. Very promptly the Insurance Council offers no assistance other than to tell them to sort it out themselves with their insurance companies. So much for Bob Parker's hope that the insurance industry could address complaints and concerns without the need for a new entity. If they can't get problems like this sorted, how will they manage complaints about what repairs are necessary, what constitutes like-for-like, how repairs should be carried out, timing issues, and whether a house should be repaired or rebuilt?

Again the point must be made: how can claimants rely on insurance companies (including EQC), or the associated review and other agencies, to assist them when they have problems? Perhaps it is time for the politicians to get involved and put in place an advocacy service that can help claimants deal with insurance companies (and EQC). I do recall Gerry Brownlee was, at one stage, not averse to this (see here).

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