An even longer wait: Rebuilds until 2017?

21:50, Aug 06 2014
Mt Pleasant family still waiting for rebuild
STILL WAITING: Greg Brown and Susannah Washington with their son Archie, 10, and daughter Stella, 7, on their Mount Pleasant section. They say their rebuild was confirmed in November 2011, but ground was still to be broken on the site.

Christchurch homeowners could now be waiting until 2017 before their earthquake-damaged homes are rebuilt.

Quarterly insurance figures compiled by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority show a significant increase in the pace of rebuilds and major repairs between April and June - 522 compared to 187 in the three months prior.

Insurance Council of New Zealand chief executive Tim Grafton said 2014 looked set to be a "watershed year" for Canterbury quake claims, but conceded more complex cases would not be finalised until 2017, despite an earlier hope that the programme would be completed by the end of 2016.

Mt Pleasant homeowner Susannah Washington said her rebuild had been confirmed in November 2011, but ground was still to be broken on site.

Her now-demolished home was left uninhabitable in the February 2011 quake and the family had since moved nine times - soon to be 10 because their rental was on the market.

Washington said she was on stress leave from her job and her young children had "really suffered".


Having to top up their government-subsidised rent while still paying their mortgage was taking a financial toll, she said.

Southern Response's website appeared to suggest its settlement target had blown out to the end of 2017 and beyond, but a spokeswoman said it referred to the 2017 financial year only.

The insurer was on target to settle more than 90 per cent of its claims by December 2016, she said.

"Given the scale and complexity of the building programme for the Canterbury rebuild, we have always given what we believe to be conservative timelines to allow for the likelihood of new challenges emerging for a small number of more complicated claims," she said.

A spokeswoman for IAG said it was committed to a December 2015 target, and hoped to have all claims completed by mid-2016.

Insurance commentator Cam Preston said the majority of completed claims were cash settlements and most of those straightforward red-zone payouts.

Progress was "very slow" if those were removed from the statistics and very few were on the most-damaged Technical Category-3 land, he said.

"It's 2200 [rebuilds and major repairs] after almost four years.

"[The insurance industry] will argue it's only one or two years . . . but the point is that 2200 out of the 10,000 that they do rebuild or repair is only 20 per cent, so how can they possibly be saying they're totally confident of the 2016 deadline?"

Grafton said the "vast majority" of claims would be completed by the end of 2016.

"I'd be very surprised if those last few couldn't be mopped up quite quickly," he said.

Grafton expected the pace of rebuilds and major repairs to increase further, with 8110 either under construction, in consenting or under contract.

"If we were to go through to 600 to 700 a quarter, that is going to look very encouraging."

He rejected Preston's view the red-zone cash payouts inflated the settlement figures.

"All that says it should be a quick settlement . . . and it was."

Grafton was unsure of the technical category breakdown in the figures, but said there had been delays on TC-3 land because of flood-prone issues, and Earthquake Commission land settlements and remediation.

Legal action, multi-unit buildings and Port Hills land issues were also contributing to delays, Grafton said.


June 2014: Over-cap claims settled: 11,392 (9875 in March)

Rebuilds/major repairs completed: 2203 (1681 in March)

Cash settlements: 9189 (8194 in March)

Over-cap claims remaining: 11,347 (12,631 in March)

Undecided or no offer made: 2387 (2876 in March)

The Press