Donations pour in for red-zoned couple

23:51, Feb 19 2013
Matt and Valerie O'Loughlin
TEST CASE: Retired couple Matt and Valerie O'Loughlin built their home 12 years ago.

A red-zoned Christchurch couple has received more than $6000 from the public to help fight their insurance company in the High Court.

Matt and Valerie O'Loughlin have had an ''uphill battle'' on their hands over the last two years but it will all come to a head in a week-long trial against insurance company Tower starting on March 4.

The court will decide whether an insurance company is entitled to pay only the repair costs of damaged houses in the red zone when such houses cannot be repaired anyway.

Many red-zoners have accepted the Government's buyout offer, but the O'Loughlins believe their property was undervalued and want Tower to honour the full replacement cover the couple had on their Dallington home.

The action has been touted as the biggest case to arise out of the quakes and will likely set a precedent for other red-zoners.

The couple is being represented by insurance lawyer Grant Shand, who said a case like this could cost more than $70,000 ''from start to finish''.


Valerie O'Loughlin said Wider Earthquake Communities Action Network spokesman Mike Coleman had been ''incredibly supportive'' and had opened a bank account for people to donate towards the couple's legal costs.

''We couldn't have done this without our family and friends ... but we've had so much support from Mike and other people dealing with similar issues too.''

She said more than $6000 in donations had been put into the bank account - something the couple was ''very grateful'' for.

O'Loughlin said while she was looking forward to ''all of this being over'' she had not thought about what they would do if they lost in court.

''I don't even want to think about it really. We've been fighting so hard for so long.''

O'Loughlin said people needed to ''stand up and fight'' and, despite feeling ''very apprehensive'' about the looming court date, said she was glad they had not given up.

''[Insurance companies] just can't get away with selling us short ... it's not fair and they have to honour the maximum replacement policy we took out with them.''

Tower would not say how much it had spent on legal and court costs.

The Press