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Saturday, 31 March 2012

Survey - are you paying for an EQC apportionment claim that you never made?

CanCERN are interested to hear from those who have had their claims apportioned over multiple events, including an event they did not lodge a claim for.

Click here to complete a very short questionnaire if you have been told by EQC that your damage has been apportioned (spread out) over events you did not make a claim for.

Please note this survey is aimed at only those who have had their damage apportioned over a number of claims including one or more claims they did not make.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Last night's CERA Red Zone workshop

Last night's CERA Red Zone workshop was an interesting event and, for me and those I spoke with, a useful opportunity to raise issues. The way it was organised and run contributed to it's success. Definitely time well spent.

Five specialists (banking, insurance, estate, finance, real estate, and CERA) spent time in turn with small groups of residents. The purpose was for residents to be able to put and have recorded questions about their own situation. The most supported questions were answered at the end of the workshop, with CERA undertaking to send participants answers to all of the questions raised. As always the Salvation Army were in attendance with food and drink.

CERA also provided an opportunity for attendees to write down EQC questions which they undertook to pass on to EQC.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

EQC update - EQConnects newsletter

EQC have e-mailed out their latest EQConnects newsletter. The main contents are:
  • Land claims
  • What does EQC mean by...
  • Cover for retaining walls
  • Canterbury Home Repair Programme
  • Meet face-to-face with an EQC Claims Advisor
  • Testing at QEII Park
Nothing is covered in depth but there may be something that adds to what you need to know. You can get a copy from their website here.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Shonky repairs and the law

A few of the repair procedures contained in the Department of Building and Housings (DBH) Revised guidance on repairing and rebuilding houses affected by the Canterbury earthquake sequence (Guide) appear, to use a layman's term, shonky.

One set of procedures in particular that spring to mind is the repair of cracked concrete slab foundations by the use of resin, grout or cement. Even the DBH seems to be uncertain about the viability of the procedures as we find this warning on page 125 of the Guide:
Please note: it cannot be assured that a crack will not reopen after the completion of any of the processes described below.
(see also the earlier blog posting here).

If you are having major repairs done by Fletcher/EQR, or your insurance company, get in writing what the life of the repair is. If proprietary techniques are being used (e.g. raising foundations by resin injections, or filling cracks with various compounds) find out what warranty is provided. Then check with your lawyer!

Many undertakings and warranties are of limited or little use. If the company doing the work goes bust who will back up the warranty? Maybe the company is still going but decides to deny responsibility, what grounds do you have for taking them to court? Neither EQC or your insurance company will be interested. Once you sign off on the repairs you are pretty much on your own.

If the shonky work or materials are hidden (under the floor or carpet, or behind wallboard) it may be years before a defect or failure is noticed. Unfortunately warranties run for a certain period of time based on when the work was done (and the problem caused), not when the problem was discovered. If a major structural component of your house is involved (foundations), or maybe the walls, you are faced with a substantial cost to restore your property to its market value. You can see why many are referring to earthquake repairs as the leaky building disaster of the future.

Of course, in the unlikely future event of another earthquake or storm EQC will consider the faulty work to be pre-existing damage and won't fix it.

There are some unsubstantiated reports of homeowners challenging the repairs being offered, and receiving an an ultimatum to sign up or they will be cashed out and abandoned. This may or may not be the case however, if you find yourself in a similar situation, contact a lawyer quickly. If you feel threatened and fearful, call the police.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Australian insurance - resilience rating of properties.

Australian insurance website have an article on moves to introduce a system of rating properties in terms of their resilience to extreme weather events. A few quotes:
ICA GM Risk & Disaster GM Karl Sullivan told the General Insurance Exchange conference in Sydney last week that while the tool will take three years to build, it will enable the insurance industry to be at the forefront of changes to building standards.
The tool will enable homeowners to input the various parameters of their property and identify key vulnerabilities and key strengths.
It will also generate a resilience score out of five for each property, with a higher score representing better durability, much like an energy efficiency rating.
Mr Sullivan says that people will be able to use the tool to assess the durability of a house before buying. At the same time “it puts the industry in the driving seat of saying what is durable and what is not and pushes the market in the right direction”.
The unstated bottom line for property owners is likely to be that policy prices will also be influenced by this system, which may flow on to market values if low scoring properties attract a much higher premium and/or excess.

With Australian insurance companies playing a big role in New Zealand, we can anticipate a similar tool being applied in New Zealand to other natural hazards. Chances are insurance companies operating in Canterbury are already analysing the three Green Zone categories with a view to setting policy prices and/or excesses according to both location and construction rating.

The full article is here.