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Tower Insurance takes EQC to court over building claims

Tower Insurance takes EQC to court over building claims and remains focussed on helping customers

Tower Insurance (Tower) today advised it has lodged formal proceedings against the EQC for the recovery of money owed to Tower for rectifying building issues on EQC’s behalf.

Following the Canterbury earthquakes an unprecedented number of claims were lodged with the EQC, which resulted in significant delays for customers.

Rather than waiting for the EQC, many private insurers took action and worked with their customers to rectify land and building issues that should have been completed and paid for by the EQC.

Tower, along with other insurers, paid for the completion of this work to enable repairs faster than what would have otherwise happened, with an understanding these funds would be repaid.

Tower is seeking to recover monies from the EQC for the remediation of both land and buildings and had entered an alternate dispute resolution process with the EQC regarding its building claim. However, Tower has been disappointed in the lack of progress made and sees court action as the only viable way forward.

Tower CEO, Richard Harding, said that Tower has long maintained that the current EQC system is broken and needs a complete overhaul.

"The refusal by EQC to pay what is owed and the resulting court action is just another symptom of an ineffective and inefficient EQC structure that has led to long delays and poor community outcomes.

"The cost of EQC’s inaction impacts all New Zealanders, resulting in higher costs, longer repair times and confusion about who is responsible for what.

"As well as taking this court action, we are strong advocates for insurers to manage major event claims from day one, as was successfully done for the Kaikoura earthquake.

"It is disappointing but not surprising given EQC’s history, that we have had to turn to the court system to achieve an outcome that is fair for our customers and shareholders," said Harding.

The buildings claim from Tower Insurance is for more than $80million.

-- Continuity of business and ongoing support for customers --

Tower recognises this is challenging time for all Kiwis, as well as the broader global community, and our thoughts are with everyone impacted by COVID-19.

While classified as an essential business, Tower has enabled over 95% of its New Zealand workforce to work from home, allowing for continuity of service for customers and ensuring the safety of employees.

Harding said that Tower is prioritising its customers and helping them with claims and ensuring their cover continues.

"We have a team in place to help our customers experiencing financial hardship and encourage customers in this position to contact us so we can help find a solution.

"Because of our new working from home arrangements, customers may experience longer than usual wait times on the phone, so if enquiries aren’t urgent, please try to chat with us online first," said Harding.

The recent implementation of new technology has enabled heavy utilisation of Tower’s improved digital channels, which allows new and existing customers to purchase insurance, manage their policy, make claims and interact with specialist teams online.

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