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.
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.