Dismay over delays in insurance advice
Frustration is growing over Government inaction, eight months after the city council unanimously called for a special Christchurch insurance advisory service.
Prompted by rising anger among property owners battling insurers over quake claims, Councillor Glenn Livingstone yesterday called on Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee to name the date when Christchurch residents would get the service they had sought since last July.
"The minister has often said that there are to be no obstacles in the recovery of Christchurch. In my view, unresolved insurance issues are the obstacle which we cannot look beyond," Livingstone said.
"A residential advisory service has the potential to expedite both the social and economic recovery of Christchurch and, until it is implemented, the recovery will not be as quick as it could be. Once a date is named, a commitment will be put in place."
Technical category 3 resident Carmel Jagger is also demanding answers on when the service will become available.
Jagger sent an email yesterday to all Christchurch City councillors and Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) chief executive Roger Sutton saying that not all badly affected residents were in a position to seek independent advice on how to advance their insurance claim, nor were they financially able to seek recourse in the courts.
"We simply have to have an insurance industry that can be relied upon when it is most needed. When can we expect the long-awaited advisory service to be available to us and what format will it take?" she asked.
Councillor Peter Beck said he shared Jagger's frustration and was trying to determine the holdup. "The issue is raised with increased frustration at meetings of elected members with representatives of Cera," Beck said.
"Each time recently we have been told that the announcement is imminent."
Insurance Council chief executive Tim Grafton said insurers had committed $200,000 to help fund the service and had provided Cera with all the information. It was now in its hands.
"The holdup is not with the insurers. The decision on when it gets under way is not our decision," Grafton said.
A spokesman for Brownlee said the issue was in Cera's hands and referred inquiries to the authority.
Sutton said yesterday several parties had to be brought together and it was taking longer than expected.
"We're at the stage now of consulting with the Community Forum and we're committed to making sure that it's a good service that actually works for people," he said.