As we have often stated on this blog New Zealand is a seismic country and events in Wellington and Marlborough have recently again proved the point. (See http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10902101). Whilst we are pleased that no serious injury eventuated, Wellingtonian’s do need to reflect very carefully on the fact that as far as insurance matters go the system is broken. Three years later, tens of thousands of Canterbury claims remain unsettled, the Government is indifferent about that fact and human rights and other abuses persist. Let us consider for a moment what would now happen if the Wellington event had been as serious as the 22nd February Canterbury event. With tens of thousands of claims outstanding in Canterbury and the addition of at least that many Wellington claims (probably far more) and no will on the part of the Government to improve the situation, it is likely that an even bigger fiasco would ensue.
In my book I went to some lengths to show that the private insurance industry is unsustainable in a small seismic nation such as New Zealand and that there is a better way. How many more earthquakes will it take before the industry might decide that the country is not a viable proposition in terms of corporate profits. Already we see post disaster that the industry has stopped selling policies. It is unthinkable that we might have to face another Christchurch type scenario (Gerry Brownlee and all) in another one of our major cities and Wellingtonian’s need to wake up to the fact that it is not likely to be any better, simply because they live in the seat of Government.
Beyond corporate interests, this Government does not really care what becomes of its citizens and I find the thought of an ongoing Canterbury rebuild (or lack of it) combined with an equal or larger Wellington event to be mentally challenging in its magnitude….and various factions blubber on about leaving EQC out of the equation so that the insurance industry can do the ‘whole job!’
State Insurance have failed to settle my claim in three years, can you just imagine what would happen in the case of another contemporaneous event? Some of the problems beyond the insurance industry itself, include an insufficient trade resource, unclear consenting processes, confusion about standards and ‘Guidelines’, the inevitable tensions between local and national government and the difficult nature of Wellington’s topography – these are just a few of the difficulties. When you combine this with the quality of reclaimed land there is an evens chance that another red zone situation would arise, together with Government inequalities and the dubious legality that has dogged the Christchurch situation. (See http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/8946555/Complex-red-zoner-High-Court-case-opens; http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch-earthquake-2011/8958308/Red-zone-and-buyouts-not-illegal; http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/8954179/Court-hears-red-zone-options-bleak).
It is abundantly clear that the Nation needs to rethink how it will insure real estate into the future. A major Wellington event would likely see more withdrawals from the market by insurers and more monopoly for IAG with inequitably higher premiums as a result. It will never stop. The only way to deal with corporate greed and inefficiency is to do it for ourselves. By ‘it’ I mean a total rethink and rejigging of the system based on a new Crown Entity (as EQC has proved itself to be arguably dishonest and inefficient). The new system would be legislated to prevent government plundering, as occurred with EQC and membership would be mandatory for all property owners. As I pointed out in Chapter 7 of my book, KIWISURE, as I have named it, is demonstrably financially sounder than the private system and would draw no profits. The idea of handing a whole recovery process to the corporates is unthinkable. If the Christchurch event had been managed solely by the private corporates, we really would be on a par with Haiti.
I do not intend to expand further on KIWISURE at this time, but you can read about it for yourself. (see https://thechristchurchfiasco.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/introducing-kiwisure/). But what I will say is that the recent Wellington wake-up call makes it clear that we may not have too much time to put the current broken, greed ridden, population indifferent system to bed. We need to replace the corporates and ensure that every property owning Kiwi can rest assured that their genuine earthquake claim will be met fairly and in full. If, as we read, the private insurers’ profits margins are up – then it is certain that KIWISURE could do better given that some will exists in a government to actually do better (clearly not this one).
Until now Wellingtonian’s have probably wished Christchurch would just go away – its been dragging on for a long time – but the best thing they could do is to learn something from it. There was never a chance with current Government attitudes that Christchurch would solve this problem alone, however, perhaps with the addition of the critical mass of a shaking Wellington, radical change might be achieved.
Only the people have the power to change this mess! Come on New Zealand.