Campaign Launched to Highlight those in claims limbo
Letterboxes Campaign Launched to Highlight Plight of Those in Claims Limbo
As the seventh anniversary of the February 22 Christchurch earthquake approaches, a new campaign has been launched.
Called “Letterboxes - #7YearsOn”, the campaign is designed to raise the profile of the thousands of unresolved insurance and EQC claims, some dating from the September 2010 quake.
A protest is planned for this Thursday 15 February, meeting in Cranmer Square at 9.45am.
Campaign organiser, Ali Jones, says there was a sigh of relief for many when the now Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, vowed at Labour’s election launch in Christchurch last August, to settle remaining earthquake claims quickly and cheaply; launch a royal commission of inquiry into the EQC; set up a tribunal to hear claims issues with EQC and private insurers, and establish a $1m fund for test cases to clarify major legal advice to claimants.
“Many of us appreciate they have only recently put their feet under the desk but we’ve already been fighting for 7 years. We also understand that time is needed to draft terms of reference for an inquiry into EQC, and that the wording of any declaratory judgement or test case to be filed takes time and exactness however, we believe there are things that can and should be done now and we are not seeing that0,” says Jones.
“Behind every letterbox is a home, a family, people trying to live their lives as they wait for progress. They are essentially powerless in most cases,” says Ali Jones. “Many wait for news to come via email into their digital letterboxes too. Others can use photos of their letterboxes to show they understand, that they support people living this nightmare.”
Campaign supporter, Jo Petrie, is in limbo with her insurance company and has been for several years. She says despite filing legal action last year, her whānau is still a long way off getting their life back.
“Every day we live this ‘limbo loop’, as I call it. Every day we look forward to the day our policy is finally honoured. The court process is exhausting, it’s expensive, it’s slow so for most people challenging their settlement is not even an option. The system needs to change so families can get a fair deal and see justice,” says Petrie.
The number of unsettled claims doesn't appear to be substantially reducing as the number of claims in litigation is at 521 and growing (as at 1 Feb 2018). Insurers also report more cases being handed to them, overcap, from EQC and Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Megan Woods has recently revealed that 3000 EQC claims remain unresolved.
“For those 3000 claims and the thousands of others still not visible, we believe there must be an audit of all EQC repaired homes, with an independent body triaging the claims and botched repairs effectively and correctly,” says Jones. “As for insurers, we need the promised tribunal operating now and a special earthquake court that runs day and night. Long term we must put in place legislation that compels insurers to settle in a reasonable timeframe. Almost a decade is not reasonable in anyone’s book,” she says.