Quake rebuilds awaited by 4000
Insurance companies have completed just 15 per cent of rebuilds and 10 per cent of over-cap repairs more than three years after the Canterbury earthquakes.
Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) data reveals that of the 4731 Cantabrians needing insurer-led rebuilds, more than 4000 are still waiting for their new home and 725 have theirs completed.
Of insurer-led repairs (costing more than $100,000), 769 homes have been completed out of 7079 to be completed.
Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee admitted he got a bit of a shock when told of the figures by The Press. "I was of the view they were doing better than that," he said.
ICNZ said another 2630 homeowners were still waiting to hear from the Earthquake Commission whether or not their claims were under or over the $100,000 cap.
Brownlee said he would be talking to the companies "to better understand what the problem is". He wanted to know how many repairs and rebuilds were started and in the pipeline. "Everyone wants it to be sooner. It's not my job to defend the insurers. We've tried to make things as straightforward as possible," he said.
Christchurch Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove said the figures were not that surprising and called for a complete insurance sector review.
Insurers had used up all their excuses and a three-year wait was unreasonable, he said. He knew of a homeowner who had received 17 inspections but had no work done.
"People cannot get a straight answer. They feel completely powerless and have no control over their lives".
Cosgrove said the Government should have followed Australia's lead after the Queensland floods, where insurers given settlement deadlines had homes rebuilt within 12 months.
However, Brownlee said that because of aftershocks, Canterbury's situation was completely different, and deadlines would not work without leverage over the insurers.
The ICNZ data also reveals the insurers have fallen short of their own repair and rebuild targets.
Council spokesman Samson Samasoni said delays included the publication of new building guidelines and the need to apportion claims across quake events.
A total of 7800 insurer-managed repairs and rebuilds were "either in the design and documentation stage or builders were hammering away", he said. Insurers had so far paid out $3.5 billion in residential settlements.
They expect to finish repairs and rebuilds by the end of 2016, with the bulk forecast for within the next two years.
A total of 172,100 homes in greater Christchurch were the subject of quake claims. Of those, 147,000 were within the scope of EQC.
Samasoni conceded that with some of the 2600 homes still to be allocated to either private insurers or the EQC, that work could further delay progress on meeting targets.
David Stringer, of community group Insurance Watch, said he did not expect insurers to meet their targets for this year or next. Many claimants had "surrendered" and taken cash payouts after being worn down by the process, he said.
- The Press