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Monday, 12 September 2011

Canterbury insurance and repairs further delayed by insurers

In an article on the website today, insurance companies operating in Christchurch are described as needing more information before committing to insuring property, and remaining uncertain that green zone land is suitable for repairs (and presumably rebuilds?).

Much seems to hinge on aftershocks ceasing (whatever that means). For Lumley insurance it is: "once the company is confident the seismic activity has abated 'to acceptable levels for a reasonable period of time, we will revisit our risk appetite for the region' ”. Again there is no quantification of what 'acceptable levels' and 'reasonable time' mean.

Significant points in the article include:
  • insurers will do all they can to return to normal conditions when the aftershocks cease and there is a clearer understanding of the status of the land.
  • there seems little prospect of new insurance being written in the near future
  • green zone land in some areas may not yet be suitable for property repairs
  • in the view of insurers not all properties in the green zone can be repaired because of damage to the land underneath them
  • insurers are also concerned that aftershocks will cause further damage to properties on 'liquefacted' land.

The fourth point is an interesting area for speculation:
  • Will the "damaged land, repairable house" scenario arise in the Green Zone as well?
  • Will insurance companies take upon themselves the power to unilaterally declare little "Red Zones", perhaps as small as a single section, if they feel their financial exposure is at an uncomfortable level?
  • Will insurers, in effect, be the only group with a re-zoning opportunity available to them?
  • If this is permitted by the government then what integrity attaches to the initial geotechnical decisions? 
The article is here.

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