When in need of help

BY GREER MCDONALD
Last updated 13:37 06/09/2010

I, like most of you I imagine, spent most of this past weekend in a "Pinch me, did that really just happen?" state of mind after the huge quake in Canterbury.  eq

I woke up to the quake when it struck and once I saw on Twitter that it was also felt in Dunedin, I knew dreams of my Saturday morning sleep-in were gone and I went in to work while it was still dark.

After a super long day looking through the hundreds of photos, hearing incredible stories of near-misses and being utterly amazed that it appeared there were no fatalities, I came home and had a look at my situation. 

Did I have a survival kit? Nope. Any spare water? Nup. Even the details of my property manager? Er, no.

Despite living arguably on the very edge of the Shaky Isles, I am woefully prepared for an emergency.

Despite spending time at the Wellington Emergency Office, doing profiles on the head of Civil Defence in my city and seeing, quite graphically, what our council is prepared for (fatalities of more than 800, extensive damage etc), it still wasn't enough to prompt me to do something about it.

It made me wonder though about the price of safety and help.

It didn't take long for reports to emerge about people who were affected by the quake, but weren't insured.

Now I can sympathise with them because life isn't black and white, and sometimes things happen right in the middle of other things. 

(For example I'd heard of someone who had bought a house in Chch the day before the quake - I wondered if they had arranged insurance? Imagine if it came down to a simple 24 hour delay between being covered or not.) 

Insurance, it seems, can be one of the things that people mean to arrange as soon as they buy a new house or new car, but mother nature doesn't work on that schedule.

Anyway, apparently about 10 per cent of people in the region did not have insurance. 

The government is apparently thinking about bailing them out to an extent which in turn means a larger bill footed by the taxpayers.

Heart 2I'm interested to know how you feel about this.

Many who have insurance all sorted and are covered by the Earthquake Commission (which people with private insurance can claim up to $100,000 for buildings and $20,000 for contents) are probably likely to baulk at suggestions that we should help out people who haven't got insurance.

But is that really who we are? In times when the proverbial hits the fan, do we really want to kick those who are already down? Say 'Tough luck buddy, serves you right for slacking'? Are we that tight (probably not the right word, but you know what I mean) that we don't actually want to help people who are less fortunate? Or do you believe we make our own fortunes - so it's up to us to protect it and have it as our own?

We dig deep when disasters happen overseas by gifting money, clothes and items. Is it that different to give the uninsured a hand up in times of extreme need? Or do you seriously believe they should suffer?

On a side note, are you like me in the fact that you haven't really, seriously planned for an emergency event?

Has the Canterbury quake prompted you to become more prepared? How much should one spend on an emergency pack? Sounds like you could go rather crazy with all the cool survival stuff that's out there now!

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82 comments
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Adam   #1   01:48 pm Sep 06 2010

I have little sympathy for those who choose not to insure. Poverty and income levels in this country and not low enough that the all but the smallest minority genuinely cannot afford to insure their property and possessions. There should be a tollerance by EQC and insurers for unintentional lapse in cover, but not a blanket bailout by the government. It's a slap in the face for those who do insure, and sends the wrong message (That you don't need to bother with insurance, because the government will just bail you out anyway)

Max   #2   01:51 pm Sep 06 2010

Of course people should get government assistance if they need it. Most people who don;t have insurance simply can't afford it, and would be the most in need.

Ella   #3   01:57 pm Sep 06 2010

Confession time: I am in Christchurch and was not at all prepared. After the quake I was using the light of my Macbook (thank goodness for a 7 hour battery life) because I had no clue where my torches were or even if they had working batteries. I have seen those ads on TV about being prepared for disaster and always thought "That won't happen in Christchurch". Now that it has I have really had to assess my situation and think about an emergency kit for the first time ever. My one saving grace, however, is that I am insured and any damage is covered . But for those who weren't insured? After something as destructive as the quake I do not think they should be out in the cold, but at the same time there needs to be emphasis on the importance of insurance as there will not always be someone there to bail the uninsured out.

haluca   #4   01:58 pm Sep 06 2010

Those of us who are fully insured can - should the worst happen - look forward to a day when everything has been replaced for us (and hopefully this isnt too long of a wait for our friends in Christchurch).

For the uninsured, I'd hate this think that, after such a natural disaster as this one, that as a country we'd point and laugh, and make them suffer. A helping hand to get people back up and running, yes. A replacement big screen TV? No.

working mum   #5   01:58 pm Sep 06 2010

I recommend the be ready approach. My crystal is all blue-taked to the shelf and it ALL survived the quake. I was amazed. It wouldn't have been important if it was broken but it is one less thing to clean up or to be cut on. Makeup off the bathroom floor was a mess too! Something to think about. I have friends who have lost everything and supermarkets have limited stocks so the survivial kit is in use here and our tinned supplies. Make sure you have a kettle that can go on the BBQ or stove so you can boil water for 3 minutes.

Stay safe every one. We are hating all the aftershocks.

Georgina   #6   02:01 pm Sep 06 2010

No one should suffer, help them out. Otherwise finance companies will rape the poor souls of the money they don't have. I just hope this will be a wake up call for the uninsured.

I'm not prepared for an emergency either. I don't even own a radio.

kater   #7   02:02 pm Sep 06 2010

My thinking is that people get insurance to cover them for a whole range of potential issues, not just earthquakes. An earthquake like this is such an off-the-scale event that of course people who, for whatever reason, haven't got insurance, should receive assistance. It's the right thing to do.

I had an awesome emergency kit set up at my last flat, but have been really slack at repeating it at my current one. Sad that it takes something like this to hit home to most of us that there really is a need for it!

Pete   #8   02:04 pm Sep 06 2010

I think there will be people really concerned about how they will rebuild their lives and Bob Parker sums it up here on Breakfast, that "We are working on a humanitarian level" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcPcI_ppfqs We created our survival kit after the the miniseries 'Aftershock'

Cafe Chick   #9   02:08 pm Sep 06 2010

That's a tough one and it's very brave of you to debate this issue so soon after a major natural tragedy. I firmly believe that insurance should only be paid to those who have taken out insurance policies; after all, why would anyone choose to pay for insurance if they know they'll be bailed out without it? However, where do you draw the line, and how strictly should the rules be applied? How can we turn out backs on people who are genuinely in need of help after a tragedy like this?

asdf   #10   02:08 pm Sep 06 2010

Just a note about insurance when buying new house. If the person had brought the house with a mortgage from a bank, it is a part of the mortagae contract that insurance has to be in place and banks will and do require you to show them the insurance documentation before approving the mortgage.


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