Don’t give up says Insurance & Savings Ombudsman
“It has been more than two years since the February 2011 earthquake and there is evidence that some consumers are still
trying to get an outcome on their claims,” says Insurance & Savings Ombudsman (“ISO”) Karen Stevens. “The number of organisations involved, the on-going seismic activity, land
zoning issues, and many other delays have taken their toll on people”
“It is a very stressful time for all Cantabrians and home owners in particular. Don’t give up. There are many agencies
that can help, including the ISO Scheme,” adds Stevens.
“Insurance policies are being tested in Christchurch like never before and sometimes as never envisaged by the
underwriters”, says Stevens. It’s in these “grey area” cases where the ISO Scheme’s assistance can be very helpful.
The delays, confusion about whether Red Zone owners’ properties should be treated as constructive write-offs, and many
other factors are having a detrimental effect on some consumers who may think there are no more options open to them.
Sometimes the ISO Scheme involvement can improve the outcome significantly for Cantabrians.
For example: one homeowner was in dispute with his insurer about the cost of the rebuild of his house. The insurer
believed the rebuild cost was $299,346 but the homeowner’s quantity surveyor assessed the rebuild cost at $413,330. With
the help of the ISO Scheme Case Manager, the key differences between the two rebuild costings were identified and
further independent quotes obtained. The Case Manager was then able to provide the homeowner with a summary of the
revised calculation that took into account independent builders’ quotes; included the garage as a rebuild; and deducted
design fees from the quantity surveyor’s and the insurer’s estimated rebuild costs. Based on this, the insurer provided
the homeowner with a revised offer of $363,743, which he accepted.
Anyone with a complaint about their insurer who cannot resolve it through the insurer’s internal disputes process should
get written confirmation of “deadlock” and approach the ISO Scheme.
Cantabrians can also get general advice from a number of other bodies, including: CERA’s Residential Advisory Service,
Citizens Advice Bureau, local community law centres and budget advisory services.
“If you’re unsure about how we can help, call the ISO scheme’s freephone 0800 888 202,” says Stevens.
The ISO Scheme offers an impartial service, applying the policy to the facts and reaching a fair and reasonable decision
in all the circumstances. Generally, it can’t uphold a complaint where there is no cover under the policy.
Insurance companies are bound by the ISO Scheme’s decisions, but consumers aren’t. If consumers are not happy with the
outcome, they can seek legal advice and take claims through the courts – although this can be an expensive process,
which doesn’t guarantee success.