Hundreds join insurance protest

Last updated 11:40 02/12/2013
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Dissatisfied Canterbury insurance customers want answers - and have given the region's largest earthquake claims holder two weeks to get them.

More than 100 customers of Southern Response, a Crown-owned company set up to handle AMI claims, today staged a protest outside the insurer's Addington office.

Banners included: ''Full replacement policy. Yeah, right!'' and ''You are killing us Southern Response''. 

Some had been prepared to camp out unless given a guarantee of action.

Southern Response chief executive Peter Rose accepted organiser Steve Gurney's challenge to front again on December 16 with answers to the individual cases presented.

''We'll be here [at the Southern Response office] to hold you account,'' Gurney said.

Although a peaceful demonstration, Rose, who was flanked by security guards, was often heckled by the crowd as he answered questions about common complaints.

Gurney had urged demonstrators to remain ''logical and calm''.

Rose told the media that staff would be allocated to deal with the cases presented and ''ascertain what our position is''.

''If they're resolvable, we'd be delighted to resolve them,'' he said.

The protest was a ''healthy way'' for customers to present their concerns, Rose said.

''I don't like going through the endurance of it but their certainly entitled to [protest] and we respect that.

''Someone said we're not transparent. I think we're the most transparent of insurers.''

The company was already reviewing its claims management.

''We might loosen things up but it won't be because of the protest today,'' Rose said.

Ali Jones, a city councillor and spokeswoman for the Canterbury Insurance Assistance Service, said challenging Rose to consider individual claims was better than ''chucking something into the big Southern Response hole''.

She was ''cautiously optimistic'' the demonstration would achieve resolutions for some.

Jones denied Southern Response had been targeted despite a number of complaints being industry-wide problems.

''[Rose] has to front up to the concerns of his policy owners,'' she said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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