Big fight ahead for red-zoners

Last updated 05:00 07/01/2013
Olly Ohlson
Olly Ohlson

Relevant offers

Christchurch Earthquake 2011

Christchurch Dilemmas: Christchurch's mental health crisis Nationwide building boom creating next leaky buildings crisis Avonside family home one of the last for demolition on Christchurch's flat land red zone Husband of woman killed in CTV building collapse wants closure Bravery medal for doctor who risked his life We were in overdrive, says one of Christchurch CTV heroes honoured with bravery medals Police to dig up soil, test foundations at Canterbury Television building site Championship swimming returns to Canterbury post earthquake GeoNet turns 15 - what have we learned about earthquakes in that time? Evan Smith can't find the words to thank son for life-saving liver gift

Christchurch red-zoners pursuing legal action against their insurers will likely have to go it alone.

Former children's television host Olly Ohlson has launched Project Red Zone on fundraising website PledgeMe, to raise more than $30,000 for a High Court challenge against the insurance payout being offered for his Brooklands home.

The house was deemed repairable, but the land was written off by the Government. Ohlson felt he should be paid full replacement value if forced to rebuild elsewhere.

Dallington couple Matt and Valerie O'Loughlin have also begun raising funds to fight for their red-zoned home.

State policyholders last year formed a group to investigate class action against their insurer, while finance commentator Janine Starks said if the same issues existed in Auckland insurers "would have been tested in court long ago".

However, Ohlson said class action was "not an option", forcing him to seek a more costly individual court battle.

"The judges have seen that class action won't work because of individual differences in policies, even with the same company," he said.

Law Society property spokesman Lindsay Lloyd, a partner at Christchurch's MDS Law, said mounting a successful class action case was not easy and it was common for policy conditions to be "fine-tuned".

"There's many different companies and many different policies within companies, so to get a number of really like-minded situations is fairly unusual. I think it's unfortunate people are having to take individual action.

"The insurance companies were always going to call the tune on this, right back from September 2010."

However, a successful individual case could not be discounted.

"It's new territory, which a lot of people hadn't anticipated in the past," Lloyd said.

Some policies state houses will be rebuilt elsewhere if the land is deemed unsuitable for building, but that was mainly for flood risk, he said.

Ohlson has raised $1640 through the website and has 58 days to raise the rest.

The money is returned if the total is not reached.

"It's humiliating to have to ask people for money, but when I think about Barack Obama, who was one of the first to use crowd funding, I don't feel so bad," he said.

"We're hoping that [money] will come through, but it's more about signalling to the insurance company that we're not going to lie down and just take it and to open the door for other people to take the same process."

Ad Feedback

He hoped the case would set a precedent and raise awareness of the plight faced by some red-zoners.

"I think a lot of the public don't realise the kind of conflict and stress being placed on people by the earthquake. Because we're red-zoned we have to get off our properties, so [insurers] have to treat us differently and offer us real value for our homes."

- The Press


Special offers
Opinion poll

Which memorial design do you like most?

Memorial Wall with a reflective pond

Table and Chairs

A Green and Peaceful Landscape

Call and Response

Riverside Promenade

A Curved and Inclusive Memorial Wall

Vote Result

Related story: Christchurch earthquake memorial designs unveiled

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content