Asthma patient breathes again

CHARLES ANDERSON
Last updated 05:00 13/02/2014
Rebecca Hamilton Barclay
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Fairfax NZ
SIGH OF RELIEF: Rebecca Hamilton Barclay's insurer has agreed to replace the carpet in her Rolleston home, which she believes is worsening her chronic asthma.

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Rebecca Hamilton Barclay has received the best news she could have hoped for.

Earlier this week The Press reported that Hamilton Barclay, who suffers from acute asthma, was struggling to breathe in her Rolleston home due to plaster dust embedded in her carpet.

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) had initially put a replacement carpet on her scope of works but later removed it, saying she was not entitled to it due to her insurance policy. However, it took several months for this to be clarified.

This week her insurer agreed to replace the carpet up to a $5000 limit.

However, the saga had exhausted Hamilton Barclay, who was still left $2300 out of pocket - a sum she would struggle to afford on her sickness benefit. She had already taken out a bank loan to pay for the recarpeting of other rooms.

Support person Jenny Harkerss said Hamilton Barclay had not asked anyone for help. It was only when Harkerss was notified of the situation by a third party that things started moving forward.

"She is not whingeing, it is not a sob story. It is just unfortunate."

Harkerss said she would try to help Hamilton Barclay find funding to make up for the shortfall.

The dust affected Hamilton Barclay's asthma so badly that she could only stand a short time in her house before she needed to leave. She is on oxygen 23 hours a day. She and her 8-year-old daughter Ashleigh had been sleeping in the garage to avoid the dust.

EQC national claims and customer manager Gail Kettle said that it could take time to gather the information from private insurers in order to determine what was covered.

"In this case, it did take longer, due to a more complex insurance policy, and EQC regrets the distress this delay has caused the customer. EQC apologised to the customer last month for this delay."

She said when vulnerability was identified, EQC would escalate claims where it could.

"In this case, Fletcher EQR worked hard to ensure repairs, covered by EQC, were completed in a timely manner."

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