No let-up to homeowner's stress

LAUREN MANN AND CHARLES ANDERSON
Last updated 05:00 21/01/2014
Steve Marshall
IAIN MCGREGOR

NO RESPONSE: Steve and Sonia Marshall have been fighting insurance company, Southern Response, for a year.

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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Steve Marshall thought the stress would be over when the Earthquake Commission (EQC) let go of his Parklands property.

But 12 months into deliberations with insurer Southern Response, he still cannot see an end to the ordeal.

"The earthquake was a natural disaster but what they have created is an even bigger man-made disaster that affects this generation and the next," he said.

Marshall is paying a mortgage on his home, deemed over the $100,000 EQC cap, but he still does not know whether the house is a repair or rebuild.

"I thought when I got out of EQC the stress would be over, but it was out of the frying pan and into the fire."

It is a similar situation for dozens of others who have myriad gripes with Southern Response.

Chief executive Peter Rose, flanked by security guards, fronted a crowd at its Addington offices in December to answer questions, including the meaning of "as new" in the policy and the time taken to progress rebuilds.

The insurer had received 99 written claims questions, although some were unhappy with what they felt were generic responses.

Support group Southern No Response plans another meeting for February 11.

The aim was to assess actions and methods used by Southern Response and Arrow International, provide information for claimants on how to deal with these organisations and discuss potential group legal action.

City councillor Ali Jones, who works closely with the group, said Southern Response management had pledged to make changes and there had been some positive outcomes.

"It is important that we as a group keep the pressure on and make sure people get what they are entitled to and soon," she said.

"Another winter in broken homes as a result of ineptitude, under-resourcing, inexplicable delays or whatever the reason is unacceptable."

Seats at the meeting would be limited, Jones said.

Marshall said his initial contact with the insurer had been positive. However, he has just sent back a third Detailed Repair Analysis which he believed was incorrect.

All three reports listed his property as having single-glazed windows. They are double glazed.

His big worry was that after 2016, when Southern Response is meant to wind up, no one would be held accountable for outstanding liability on his home.

Marshall did not attend the protests but now the group has his full support.

"It's a good way of us all sharing information and documenting everything," he said.

A Southern Response spokesman said the insurer could not comment on Marshall's claim without a signed privacy waiver.

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- The Press

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