"Highlighting the inadequacies of the way in which the earthquakes of 2010-2012 were handled by the insurance industry! "

Mission for the New Year


A number of people have asked me already this year – ‘where are you at and where are you going?’. So I’ll use this space to quickly update everyone on my progress and my intentions for 2016._MG_2342-Edit [844252]

Some of you already know that my husband and I settled our residential property insurance claim finally at the end of 2015, just a couple of weeks prior to the commencement of the scheduled High Court trial against IAG (State Insurance) – not untypical of insurance company behaviour. We weighed up the costs (both emotional and financial) of going through an entire trial process and a possible appeal and decided that we would cut our losses and move on. So it took us almost five years, to the day, to settle our property insurance claim!

The last few days of the settlement process were a bit of a marathon too. We flew to Auckland and spent a couple of days there – where the mediation with IAG took place – seven IAG people and four of us (Auckland lawyer, Kalev Crossland; Queens Council, Neil Campbell; and ourselves). The mediator was the retired Judge Robert Fisher QC.  The mediation started at 9.00am in the morning and ran till 9.30pm that evening, after the other side simply got up and left. So we failed to reach agreement on that first day. The following day there was a bit more banter between the lawyers and finally at 4.30pm that afternoon the parties agreed upon a figure. Of course, we had to sign the usual confidentiality agreement at the end of the process, so I won’t go into a discussion about figures other than to say that we did not come out ‘whole’ but we were comfortable enough with the final amount. If we had not been, we would have continued on. It was a difficult decision to stop the legal process. When you have been messed around so thoroughly, for so long, you really want to have your day in court. But in this game, you’re never quite sure whether the playing field is a level one (excuse the pun), and that’s particularly true in the Christchurch scenario.

It is hard to describe what it feels like to have settled – it was very surreal at first. We spent the next few weeks regrouping, deciding what to do and how to go about it. We had been living with my father for five years and were conscious of wanting to give him back his space, so we moved quickly and purchased another property. The next couple of months were spent moving possessions, settling in, relaxing and catching up on years of lost sleep. When you settle a longstanding claim you suddenly realize how much stress you’ve been under, it takes quite some time for the body to recuperate.

We are now a few more months further down the track. I have been busy writing again. I have updated the first version of my book The Christchurch Fiasco which will be released very soon, along with a new website. I continue to work toward achieving change in the way our insurance industry is structured and the better protection of New Zealand policyholders. In addition I have been working on a chapter for an international publication on disaster management (you’ll hear more about that some other time) as well as another book related to insurance called the Anatomy of a Claim. This is progressing well and will also be released this year. So I have not been sitting on my hands.

I continue to watch developments in Christchurch with great interest and remain in regular contact with the community (on Facebook, and twitter) – particularly those still affected by the insurance industry – let’s face it, after five years this is no longer about an earthquake! I see myself continuing to do that work until such time as there is real evidence of an end to the nightmare for affected policyholders.

I remain greatly disappointed with this New Zealand National Government and the private insurance industry and I am now firmly of the belief that New Zealand has joined the ranks of many other so-called democratic countries that no longer represent their people but are waging war on the middle classes through their fowl public policies, and dodgy corporate loving business practices, slowly eroding our individual rights and individual liberties.

So on that note – I renew my invitation to you all to contribute your views and your opinions in 2016 and I look forward to your renewed energy and intellectual banter. Thanks again to all those who contribute. I would have given up long ago had your feedback not kept me going.

~Future Proofing for a sustainable, participatory, democratic society.

Author: Sarah-Alice Miles

Love to write, create and watch the clouds move across the sky - these days in the Netherlands. 'Art allows us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time'.

8 thoughts on “Mission for the New Year

  1. Sarah,

    Our nightmare continues with State Insurance, We had an agreement to settle in 2015 and the new claims handler pulled the rug fron underneath us. We followed their directives (IAG) only to discover our time was wasted. IAG have spent an astronomical amount of money to defend the claim (2 half years) only to be left gutted and demoralised by these unscrupulous roque corporation.
    What gives them the divine right to bully and intimidate us into not settling for our true entitlements under the terms and condition in our insurance contracts.
    We are a mutue couple and have left traumatised by the chain events taken place recently. I sincerely hope nobody has to endure this treatment we have received. . The NZ Government has to have compassion and create laws to protect its people in the event of another Christchurch disaster .
    OUR NIGHTMARE CONTINUES. after spending bad money after good money trying to seek a remedy to our claim with State.Insurance
    In the meantime we don’t have a house to call home and our daughter now resides in a hall of residence at university, she could no longer bear the stress we have endured.
    The mental health implications will become quite evident down the track.


    • Thank you for relaying part of your story. I am sorry to hear of your struggles. I hope the two of you can pull together and remain strong against IAG. We free to send me a personal email. I’m happy to talk.
      I too hope this is never repeated- though unless we make some serious noise it will be!


  2. The government and its accomplices the Insurance industry are attempting to marginalise the many thousands of claimants whose repairs fall at the extensive and therefore expensive end of the spectrum. These fully insured policyholders are NOT the ones with a crack in their gib or a loose gutter. Those types of repairs have indeed been carried out and, as we know, they represent the statistical manipulation of the real truth (we have completed 99.9999% of all repairs mantra). If instead we take 500K as a rather conservative average rebuild cost for one house bearing in mind any ground remediation, we can clearly see that the many thousands of houses that MUST be rebuilt under the insurance policy terms amount to many $billions. A clear reason for those powerful entities to marginalise and ignore these claimants branding them as a few carpers and moaners to the rest of NZ using all the propaganda tools at their disposal and manipulation. AND GUESS WHAT! They’ve almost pulled it off or so they think!. The apathy and isolation of claimants in this category has made it relatively easy for EQC to wear them down in the first bitter defence line of this war of attrition. The second defence line are the ICs who achieve their goals by further grinding down into submission those worn out by 5 years of fighting EQC. The govt WILL NOT legislate against the Insurance industry with regard to timeframes because it itself carries the largest insurance liability through EQC and SR. So it makes perfect sense (financially, Immorally and unethically) to instead marginalise and pretend to the rest of this country that these high cost claimants really don’t exist! except for a few carpers and moaners. They don’t care about your financial ruin, uncertain future, stress, relationship breakdowns suicide, illness, death, the elderly & vulnerable, your children, your future or anything else about you. They want you to just disappear and vaporise into the ether and they are doing everything in their power to make this happen. Well now its up to us to show them that there is an ever growing elephant in the room and it aint going away! Social media is a useful tool indeed but it cannot take the place of affirmative action and by that I mean GETTING OFF YOUR ARSE and showing yourself in numbers which can’t be ignored easily! The govt and their bed partners the private insurers have been on a protracted dirty weekend lasting 5 years, leaving policyholders outside in the cold


  3. Hi Sarah
    We too have settled with IAG after 5 years and whilst the settlement was good the process has left a sour taste albeit we have re insured with them as their particular policy was the best of the major insurers.Your comments on the treatment of the middle class by Government and Corporates recognizes the squeeze the middle classes have been subjected to for a couple of decades with real standards of living barely improving against the vast increase in wealth of the Elites – I recall a figure of 50% of Global wealth being owned by a small % of the wealthy. The middle classes essentially pull the levers and when they decide en masse their personal situation has become intolerable the real strife will begin as the wealthy discover how inconvenient it is when you cannot get a plumber to fix you leaks, the gas station refuses to serve you as does the grocer – all areas dominated by the middle classes, the greedy wealthy will discover being a pariah in society is much like being in prison .Large corporates and Government are just names and the people making decisions that enrich themselves at the expense of others may find they have insufficient relevant insurance cover to maintain themselves against the avalanche of retribution.


  4. Hi Sarah

    Glad you were finally able to resolve your case with the carrier.

    Now you can appreciate why in the US we have an industry which allows insureds to hire their own adjuster after a property loss.

    I visited Christchurch a couple of times and realized the denial and underpayment of earthquake claims crosses all borders and cultures.

    After the Northridge earthquake in 1994 I represented many homeowners and it took a great deal of time and effort to get the claims paid at a decent amount.

    Wishing all the residents in Christchurch a Prosperous 2016


    Stephen End
    Public Adjuster
    Dietz International
    http://Www.dietzinternational. Com


    • Hi Stephen, thanks for your email. Yes it has become abundantly clear that the insurance industry has much to answer for! and not just in New Zealand but globally. It also became clear to me over the course of the five years that there is a real place in New Zealand for good public adjusters. On the whole insurance law and the insurance process is little understood. So perhaps we will see further development in this area in New Zealand.
      I too wish those residents with unresolved claims much kindness and good will for the upcoming year. They’ve had a hell of a time!


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s