Owner in never-ending dance with insurer

03:55, Feb 27 2014
Anne McDonald
SLOW PROGRESS: The garden has begun invading Anne McDonald's Waltham home.

Anne McDonald is tired of dancing with insurers over the rebuild of her Christchurch flat.

The Waltham homeowner has been waiting for progress on the rebuild of her Charles St property, which has become mired in the complexities of multi-unit dwelling claims.

It is understood about 1000 of the more than 3000 unresolved over-cap claims involve multi units. McDonald’s house is one of seven units on technical category 3 land. All have been deemed rebuilds, bar one, which is not attached to other buildings.

Her flat is is one of four that share firewalls, and one of two insured by Southern Response. The other five have a different insurer and there is no body corporate.

McDonald likened dealing with insurers and project managers to a dance.

‘‘You’re dancing the waltz with a partner who wants to do the two-step shuffle,’’ she said.


McDonald bought the property as an investment and it was leased to Housing New Zealand until the February 2011 earthquake ‘‘blew the place up’’.

It became uninhabitable, with no sewerage or running water, and serious damage from liquefaction.

In September last year, she received an email saying the project managers were getting replacement cost estimates.

On December 10, the loss adjustor advised her the project manager had proposed a solution for land remediation and foundation design. A plan was expected before Christmas.

Correspondence on January 30 said drainage investigation work needed to take place before the repair strategy could be finalised.

‘‘They seem to do one [report], then require another, and another, and another,’’ McDonald said.

‘‘It does begin to take a toll with stress. People are just so over waiting.’’

Adding to her frustration was advice from Southern Response in June last year that the house would be rebuilt within 12 months.

‘‘When I hung up I went, ‘Yeah right’. I still can’t see this thing being done until 2017.’’

Her money was tied up because she could not use the equity to buy elsewhere while the house was uninhabitable.

It was ‘‘emotionally distressing’’ to visit the property because it had been wrecked by vandals. Looters had taken the water cylinder, heat pump and kitchen bench – even fence palings.

‘‘Anything even nailed down has managed to find its way out,’’ McDonald said.

Southern Response earthquake strategy manager Casey Hurren said McDonald’s rebuild was ‘‘moving slowly . . . but it’s acceptable in the circumstances given all the planning that’s got to occur’’.

IAG, which had the most claims for the site, was leading the project. The homeowners at Charles St had been ‘‘really quite positive’’, he said.

‘‘They understand there’s a lot of moving parts as far as the planning is concerned,’’ Hurren said.

Consent would be submitted once land drainage issues were resolved. The planning process ‘‘could be a long one’’ and McDonald’s rebuild was well advanced compared with other multi-unit claims, he said.

The Press