Poor report prompts IAG

GREG NINNESS
Last updated 07:03 29/07/2012

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Insurance giant IAG has beefed up its earthquake assessment teams in Christchurch after being hammered for poor service in an online customer survey.

The survey was organised by consumer group Insurancewatch.org.nz for people living in Christchurch's coastal suburbs, an area which suffered some of the worst property damage during last year's earthquake.

Of the 380 homeowners who took part in the survey and responded to questions about the status of their properties and the service they had received from their insurance companies, 152 were insured with IAG, either directly or through its subsidiaries Lantern, State and NZI.

Of these, 53 said they were still waiting for IAG to complete an on-site assessment of their homes to determine whether they could be repaired or would need to be demolished and completely rebuilt, nearly 18 months after the earthquake occurred.

And more than 80 per cent of the IAG customers who responded to the survey rated the company's progress in handling their claims as poor to awful.

Insurancewatch spokesman David Stringer said one of the surprises in the survey was that smaller insurance companies such as Lumley and Farmers Mutual tended to rate more highly in terms of customer satisfaction than the larger ones.

"The smaller ones are actually making progress [with their claims]," he said.

"The big ones seem to have adopted a different strategy of just waiting for the Government to do what it is going to do and then they'll act, whereas the smaller ones will get out and assess their customers' properties without waiting for the Government to move and they're making some progress."

IAG's executive general manager for Canterbury Recovery, Dean MacGregor, acknowledged the company had been slow to assess some properties.

"The reason we decided not to rush in and assess all of those properties is because the actual repair or rebuild could not go ahead yet anyway, because there's a raft of land issues to be resolved by EQC.

"But we certainly acknowledge that there are people who simply want to know the answer, regardless of whether their property can actually be repaired today or not. So in response to that we've invested in upsizing our assessment team quite considerably and have made a commitment to that group that we'll have all of their assessments completed by the end of the year," he said.

Stringer said that due to the high level or responses insurancewatch received from householders in Christchurch's coastal suburbs, the survey had been extended and opened up to residents throughout the city.

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- Sunday Star Times

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