Earthquake-damaged home loses insurance

BEN HEATHER
Last updated 05:00 17/08/2011

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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A woman has lost insurance for her earthquake-damaged Christchurch home, despite the industry saying it would look after existing customers in the shattered city.

On Saturday, the cover on Sarndra Lees' Aranui rental property expired after a protracted dispute with insurance broker The Insurance Group and its underwriter, China Taiping Insurance.

"I am totally uninsured and totally stressed," she said.

Last month, China Taiping had insisted for the first time that she submit a detailed appraisal of her property manager's credentials, including what software he used, before agreeing to renew her policy, Lees said.

She attempted to answer the questions, but said her policy contained no requirement to employ a property manager. Her answers have failed to satisfy the insurer and her property is now uninsured in a city where insurers are refusing to take new customers.

"I have done nothing differently for the last four years and for them to say they won't renew now is unreasonable," she said.

The Insurance Group managing director Rob Cormack said Lees' situation was complicated, but she had not done herself "any favours" when trying to renew her policy.

"We are still working with the insurers [China Taiping] to get her renewal through."

He declined to give more details, citing privacy constraints, but said many people were having difficulty renewing their policy, with insurers getting tougher on renewals. Many larger private insurers were refusing to renew some policies for businesses and home insurance.

Cormack's claims contradicted the stated position of most large private insurers since the February quake that existing Christchurch customers would be retained.

Losing existing insurance would leave quake-hit homeowners exposed in the event of another quake and make it almost impossible to secure and maintain a bank loan.

The Insurance Council could not be reached for comment yesterday.

A Lumley Insurance spokeswoman said the company was continuing to renew policies for existing customers in Christchurch but, like most insurers, was not taking on new customers in the city for the foreseeable future.

IAG, which owns NZI and State, said it would do its best to support customers, including renewing policies when it "makes sound business sense".

China Taiping did not respond to a call from The Press.

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- The Press

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