the insurance fiasco

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

About Sarah’s Blog

Hi,  My name is Sarah Miles. I am frustrated State Insurance (IAG) policyholder with an unresolved insurance claim resulting from the September 4, 2010 earthquake in Christchurch City in New Zealand and author of ….

“The Christchurch Fiasco: the Insurance Aftershock and its Implications for New Zealand and Beyond”.

Driven by my experiences I wrote this book as a commentary on the post-earthquake reconstruction phase of the City after the 2010-2012 earthquakes and my own experience with State Insurance.

In the past four years the private insurance industry has failed miserably to achieve any decent level of progress with the reconstruction of residential properties in the Canterbury region and has thus contributed to the on-going misery of the affected population.  These are patterns replicated the world over. It is my opinion that this is not merely accidental.

The Canterbury events are in actuality of concern to all New Zealanders and others around the globe for a variety of reasons. In my blog it is my intention to share the background information I have gathered and analysed from both New Zealand and from other disaster stricken areas in the world. It is my hope that in this way New Zealand and others with insurance policies will be better able to protect themselves.

In my blog I want to share the outcomes of my research with others. I intend to bring a better awareness of the underlying issues behind the state of affairs in Canterbury and other communities affected by natural disasters. The last decades have seen an alarming increase in global natural disasters affecting hundreds of thousands people, most recently Hurricane Sandy in the U.S. What we are beginning to become aware of is that it is likely in the years to come that these natural disasters will increase in number. I truly believe that now is the time to better prepare ourselves and take the appropriate measures.

I would also like my readers to consider some aspects that are not covered in the general media but which nevertheless become increasingly obvious as you research them. I would like to share these findings with you and hope you will comment on them and share your own experiences. I would like to know what you think about the concepts that I raise in this blog and my book. Feel free to engage me in conversation. These are global issues and a global dialogue is necessary.

I intend to bring the following topics to your attention:

  • insurance policyholder protection and the insurance industry
  • policyholder protection and the justice system in New Zealand
  • corporate capitalism and disaster capitalism;
  • the role of government in disaster management;
  • the role of private enterprise in disaster management;
  • the role of the ’free press’ and media post disaster;
  • corporate financial interests and government complicity here and around the world;
  • the tension between shareholder profit  and policyholder protection
  • many other related themes;
  • on occasion ‘stuff’ that does not fit neatly into these categories.

Occasionally I will also write about resources I have found especially useful as I carried out my research.

You will probably think of other areas that need coverage as well. Don’t hesitate to bring them up. I really look forward to hearing your experiences and views on these issues.

After the Canterbury earthquakes my husband and I were involved as therapists in the immediate aftermath and it was in those weeks that  I saw first-hand the personal and social cost of the earthquakes in Canterbury.  This experience and my own ongoing battle with my insurance company (State Insurance, an IAG subsidiary) has provided me with the impetus to follow these events up in a more systematic way. My experiences in Christchurch with the aftermath of this disaster, along with my professional background, have led me to ask some searching questions as to how to manage a recovery including protecting the interests of people. I strongly believe that with the help of your experiences and insights we can find some answers to these questions. If you believe in a participatory, democratic society, then this blog is for you.

I typically post at least once a week. In order to make sure that you do not miss my latest posts check out the Archive.

Enjoy my blog pages, I hope you feel challenged.

P.S. If you would like some exposure for your art work and you think it would suit the site, then please contact me.

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

4 thoughts on “About Sarah’s Blog

  1. I have finally received payment from EQC, and a very generous offer from my insurance company Vero, however my bank Sovereign put the payment from EQC into a Suspense account and refused to release the funds for a month, finally doing so after my complaint to the Banking Ombudsman, They have also said that the payment from Vero is to go into the Suspense account too, so again it seems I will have to ‘fight’ to release those funds which are to rebuild my munted house. Other banks that I have asked release the funds right away so that the funds can be used for the purpose they were intended for. I don’t want the payment in the Suspense account, but am getting nowhere trying to talk to them. Are other people experiencing the same dilemma?
    Sandra Scott-Harrison email


    • Hi Sandra,
      It’s quite common, I believe, for pay-outs such as these to be held in an account (usually the payee’s one, not a suspense account) if the bank holds a mortgage on the property. This is done “to ensure that the funds are used for the purpose for which they are intended”, that is, in this case, the repair of the property. Some will release them on supplying a sworn statement that the funds will only be used for the intended purpose, i.e. the repair work. My guess is this is to ensure their interest in th property’s value (their mortgage) is not placed at risk. So, swanning off on an overseas holiday or buying a new car using those funds isn’t an option. Bankers covering their backsides….


  2. Intersting that Consumer, in one of their latest releases states, inter alia, “The [Consumer Guarantees] Act does not cover the purchase of houses, although it does cover house repairs”, and “[sellers/tradesmen] cannot exempt themselves from their obligations under the Act, even if they put it in a contract.” So, where does that leave EQC in relation to repairs that have not been carried out in a “workmanlike manner”, also part of the Act? (See ) Sorry, it’s a rather long link.


  3. Pingback: Where to From Here? | EmilySpink

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