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

7 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Hello Sarah. In connection with your article on the Christchurch Fiasco, I would like to make you aware of one strategy that our insurer has taken to keep us locked in to an ongoing conflict. (You may not be aware of this particular manoeuvre). For four years now our insurer has maintained that our house is a repair and that their project management team would repair it, whilst supplying us only with an incomplete scope that has become a basis for disagreement. At the end of 2014 they sent a member of their settlement team to meet with us. After this meeting we received a letter with two cheques attached, being the amount that they deem to be enough for us to repair the house ourselves, and that we could approach them for further sums should our repairs exceed this amount. This has shifted the onus of responsibility for repairs to us, while withholding all their repair strategy paperwork etc. We continue to live under this cloud of doom and struggling to cope with seemingly unknowable ramifications, in a house that remains unrepaired and insurable only by this our current insurer. If you receive this letter, I would be very grateful of your views on this situation, particularly some idea on how we can move forward.


  2. Good on you Sarah!

    Insurance may be a business, but it is not exempt from morality, and needs to be accountable for how it treats people. These stories need to be told.

    My parents were supposedly “high priority” according to the EQC, but the insurance company (State) don’t recognise this. My parent’s house has only just started receiving its repairs.

    When they made their claim, they discovered that all sorts of things weren’t covered- for example when they abandoned the house the kitchen was overcome with mice that gnawed through the wiring in the dishwasher. Clearly this was because of the earthquake, yet the insurance company said that “rodent damage” wasn’t covered in their insurance. They never had rodents when they lived in the house- the rodents overtook the hill because there were hundreds of uninhabited houses full of food. You can imagine the disgusting mess they returned to after a year away, yet they received no help cleaning up despite being elderly and in poor health. Then of course the garden was completely overcome with weeds, and they kept getting invaded with rodents from other uninhabited houses when they returned because there were still huge holes in the house everywhere. The house had received emergency repairs, but it was pretty disgusting, so my father worked to perform further repairs to make it habitable enough to return to.

    The house is old wasn’t worth repairing. They wanted it bowled and replaced with a smaller house using the amount of money it would take to repair it. However the insurance company insisted on repairing it. It remains to be seen whether it will fall to pieces when they repile it as part of final repairs!

    Theirs is not the worst Christchurch story I’m sure, but they are of the generation where they find it difficult to advocate for themselves. I can’t do so on their behalf, as I live in Auckland.

    Just one of many cases where the insurance company reduces peoples to numbers and weasels out of contracts. There has been far too little government intervention, and far too much leaving it up to the insurance industry, when it is clear they do not prioritise according to need and their motivation is to look for the cheapest fix, not the most socially sustainable.

    Houses that had hardly any damage were repaired first, leaving people like my parents, who were identified as high priority according to need, in substandard accommodation, and many others homeless. What should have happened is that the worst damaged houses should have been bowled and (a mix of temporary and permanent) emergency high density accommodation should have been built within the first year using methods such as prefabrication that are rapid. If necessary, emergency housing could have been built in Hagley Park, and a new park could have been created to the East of Hagley Park. There are still far too many homeless people in Christchurch, as well as high needs people living in substandard accommodation.

    Instead resources were prioritised tidying up minor damage in wealthy Western suburbs- to secure Brownlee’s majority. 😦


    • Yes its truly incredible isn’t it. The industry seems to have no moral compass what so ever – and our Government has done absolutely nothing to raise the standard of their performance or speed the process up. I find it an extraordinary state of affairs and it has given me insight into the seedy side of this little country – the days of New Zealand being the country of “milk and honey” are well and truly over. I hope your parents settle into a new and happy home. As an aside read these cases they may be of help to you and your parents. Insurer’s all over the city will be trying to avoid consequential loss issues – mould is a common one as is water damage. It is enough that a reasonable man would have realised that the damage or loss was not an unlikely consequence of the breach: eg Inder Lynch Devoy & Co v Subritzky (1979) 1 NZLR 87, per Somers J at p 92. and : Orica Australia Pty Ltd v Limit (No 2) Ltd (2011) 16 ANZ Insurance Cases ¶61-877. and Vintix PTY Ltd v Lumley General Insurance Ltd.


  3. Hello Sarah.
    We are currently in the position described within the articles regarding the difference in the standard of repair owed by EQC and that owed by the insurance company. We have a Tower full replacement policy and the wording is – as new – relating to repair work as well as replacement.

    We are currently counted as under cap by EQC but I suspect that if the figures were done for repairs to be to “as new” standard, we would be over cap.

    We are currently in the position that Fletchers want to come and start repairs. We are not going to let them – have not signed commencement forms – as we wish to find the best way to get the “full” repair to the “as new” standard.

    Could you please get in touch with any advise as to the best way to proceed.
    My email will come through with this comment.
    We would be happy to engage you to help with this in a professional capacity – and if not just any general advice as to the best way to proceed.

    We are very lucky in that the house is livable and time is not against us in this issue. So we can fight for the full entitlements under the policy.


  4. Insurance is a business end of story. This is capitalism, thats the society we live in. SO why are you so surpirsed about this Sarah? You have a problem with insurers making money off other peoples unfortunate events. But I see you have no problem making money off the victims of CHCH with your book. Pot calling kettle black maybe?


    • Lauren, Thank you for your comment. I take it you don’t live in Christchurch- do you not expect to get what you paid for? Perhaps you don’t have insurance? As far as book sales go – its the publisher who makes the money not the author. My aim is to inform. There are thousands of people here really struggling and the media doesn’t give you even a glimpse of the problems.


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