Chch insurers score low in satisfaction survey

17:00, Sep 10 2012

More than one-third of Christchurch residents have filed an insurance claim for earthquake damage and many are unhappy with their provider's performance.

A Press survey of Christchurch residents showed 49 per cent of those who filed property claims were dissatisfied with their insurer.

The near 50-50 split was similar to respondents' satisfaction with the Earthquake Commission. Private insurers fared slightly better, but still scored highly on extreme negatives.

Seventeen per cent were "extremely" dissatisfied with their insurer, the strongest possible negative response, compared with just 7 per cent "extremely" satisfied.

Insurers rated better on the information they provided claimants than on the resolution of claims.

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Poor communication was the most-cited reason for frustrations.

Thirty-seven per cent of respondents had filed a property insurance claim, with the major insurers, IAG and AMI, accounting for about two-thirds of the market.

Insurance Council chief executive Chris Ryan said he was disappointed the results were not better.

"We would like to do better," he said. "I think it's a recognition of the difficulty of the situation, but we are heartened that half the people feel there's been some degree of delivery by insurers."

IAG Canterbury recovery executive manager Dean MacGregor said the numbers were not a surprise.

"There's certainly a number of home owners that are frustrated and would like to see [things] moving at a faster rate, and I think that's understandable," he said.

"With hindsight, I'm sure most insurers would have tailored their communication differently [and] tried to provide better or more informed communication."

Insurance companies did not expect issues such as apportionment, land compensation and building design requirements to cause such long delays, MacGregor said.

Satisfaction levels should improve as providers were able to give personalised, detailed information about how long claims would take to settle.

"We are now pretty confident that we will have all of our repairs and rebuilds completed by the end of 2015," he said. "[We need] to slot people into time frames to say where they sit in that spectrum."

Peter Rose, chief executive of AMI claim manager Southern Response, said he was pleased the results were not worse.

"We're not comfortable with it, but frankly I would have expected it to look something like that," he said.

"We can't satisfy all customers. We think we are pretty timely but we're not going to satisfy [everyone's] expectations."

A 70 per cent satisfaction rating would be a good result, he said.

The Press will continue to look at private insurers' performance this week.

Thursday's edition will look at satisfaction based on claimants' age and where they live.

The Press