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Leading insurer sets schedule for Christchurch customers

Leading insurer sets schedule for Christchurch customers

Auckland, 23 August 2012 - Leading insurer, Vero is finalising the schedule for the repair and rebuilding of its Christchurch customers properties.

Speaking at the Insurance Brokers Association of New Zealand (IBANZ) Conference in Auckland today, the head of the Vero Insurance earthquake response, Jimmy Higgins said the lack of start dates for repairs and rebuilding was causing community and customer concern.

"There has been significant and creditable progress with the recovery, and both insurers and government agencies are implementing plans that will ensure a full recovery," he said.

"The area that could be improved is the ability of the key participants including insurers, CERA, the EQC, Government and the Christchurch City Council to fully cooperate in the recovery effort.

"There is still far too much public criticism by these groups about the performance or shortcomings of others involved in the recovery.

"That is making the task of clear and consistent communication about the true situation in Christchurch more difficult than it should be," Jimmy Higgins said.

The current Vero plan was to have a reinstatement timeframe sent to every customer by the end of September.

“The timeframes will range from a start date this year through to a start in 2014, and possibly the beginning of 2015, Jimmy Higgins said.

“We will make every effort to reduce the timeframes of our customers who have the latest start dates.

“We understand the needs of the elderly and others with special needs and have had a prioritisation process in place since the beginning of this year,” he said.

In describing his experience managing major disasters in Australia, Jimmy Higgins said there were some aspects that were similar to managing insurance claims from the Christchurch earthquakes.

“Disasters typically work in three year cycles. The first year is characterised by customer, community and government criticism of the pace of the recovery, including insurer responses.

“The second year has less overt conflict and focuses on issues resolution and rebuilding. The need for collective rather than polarised positions amongst participants such as insurers, politicians, government agencies, local government and community groups begins to be more widely understood and accepted.

“The third year is mostly focussed on claims completion, with the contentious issues being scheduling and quality of work.

“What this tells us is that soon we will reach the point in Christchurch where insurers, CERA, EQC, Government and others will understand the benefit of mutual respect and cooperation,” he said.

In discussing the unique aspects of the Christchurch recovery, Jimmy Higgins said the fact there had been five earthquakes in two years complicated the recovery.

The new guidelines covering TC1, TC2 and TC3 areas were other examples of factors that had slowed the pace of recovery.

“There are an estimated 30,000 TC3 sites in Christchurch.

“The EQC has recently started a drilling program that currently covers under-cap claims and will be conducted on an area-wide basis. That program is expected to proceed into next year.

“Vero will participate in this program and we will also need to conduct our own drilling because conditions vary for each home site.

“That will enable engineers to provide the correct advice on foundation design for TC3 properties and meet our customer needs,” he said.

The complexity of the TC3 situation debunks two consistent myths Jimmy Higgins told brokers.

“The first is that insurers have had two years to get moving on claims.

“That is simply not true in the case of TC3 – one of the most contentious areas of the Christchurch recovery.

“The second myth is that there can be quick fixes or ways to speed up the reinstatement process.

“The TC3 drilling is fundamentally important, but it is just one more step forward in a complex array of actions required to deliver substantial reinstatement numbers.

“It is vital for customers and the community in Christchurch to be encouraged by each step forward and engaged in the overall process.

“It is equally important to ensure each step is placed in the context of the overall recovery effort and the mutual dependency of insurers, EQC, CERA and the Government in that effort”, Jimmy Higgins said.

ENDS

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