Insurance battler wins her own fight

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 05:00 26/12/2013
Ali Jones
VICTORY: Ali Jones.

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A Christchurch City councillor will not stop advocating for Cantabrians struggling with insurance woes despite receiving the "best Christmas present ever".

Ali Jones, a joint organiser of two protests against Southern Response and the spokeswoman for the Canterbury Insurance Advocacy Service, has been told her St Albans home will be rebuilt after more than three years fighting the insurer and the Earthquake Commission (EQC).

"We were happy, we were angry and we were frustrated that it had taken this long to get an outcome," she said.

The family home was damaged in September 2010 but became uninhabitable as a result of the February 2011 earthquake.

Jones was told the property could be repaired despite having "buggered piles and foundations".

The family of four has been renting since November 2011 and pays about $700 in top-up rent each month as well as juggling reduced mortgage repayments, phone and mail diversion and about $200 a month on insurance payments.

After about a year of fighting with EQC to have the property categorised as over cap, Southern Response estimated the house could be repaired for $276,000.

"We've had about eight or nine different assessments and then Arrow International advised Southern Response that some of the work we had done in the house had compromised the structural integrity of it," she said.

"They were trying to void our insurance policy . . . we had architects and engineers and consents for all the work we did [in the house]."

Assessors had not been in the roof or sub-floor and Jones did not believe the damage had been correctly estimated since day one.

"It's been a nightmare," she said.

However, she said at a meeting with Southern Response last Friday, staff had apologised for the way the case was handled.

"We've been told our place in the build queue has been held . . . and I'm hoping we'll be in our new place by this time next year."

While there would still be "a lot of decisions to make and papers to sign", Jones said having a "focus point" made life more bearable.

"I think everyone feels like that and at least when you've got a definitive answer you can move on."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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