Uninsured on Coast worry mayor

MYLES HUME
Last updated 05:00 05/08/2014

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A West Coast mayor is worried more uninsured residents will be "left out in the cold" by the region's destructive weather in the face of rising insurance costs.

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn said the weekend's tornado, which damaged at least 10 properties in the Greymouth suburb of Blaketown, was a stark reminder of the risk residents took for not insuring their homes.

Of the three properties made uninhabitable from Saturday's twister, at least one house in Coakley St was uninsured, leaving the family to contemplate their next move.

Owner Marcia Pere has lived in the house for 15 years, and has contents insurance. Pere owned the house outright through a rent-to-buy scheme, while the land was leasehold to the council, but she was in a dispute with insurers over the home valuation.

"They have no money to get their roof on and wiring work done to make it safe," Kokshoorn said. " They can only stay with friends for so long, so they are are at the mercy of the public to help."

Occupants of the other uninhabitable properties had been put up in accommodation by their insurance companies and repairs on their homes would begin soon.

Kokshoorn was concerned fewer West Coasters were insuring their homes as premium costs increased after the Canterbury earthquakes.

Insurance Council New Zealand figures show the average home insurance policy increased more than 60 per cent since the Canterbury earthquakes, with 40 per cent of that made up of increased levies and taxes.

"You never know when you're going to need insurance. Mother Nature always has the last say on the West Coast; you have to respect the weather on this side of the hill," Kokshoorn said.

He pointed to a series of weather events that devastated the Coast in recent years, including a tornado in 2010 causing $10 million damage, 150kmh winds that hit the region in 2010 and Cyclone Ita on April 17 that inflicted $46m in damage.

Following Cyclone Ita, Kokshoorn accessed the Mayoral Relief Fund to help with the living costs of six households. He he expected to do the same for the displaced family this week.

He said they were being supported by local organisations, including the Salvation Army.

The other seven to eight properties sustained minor damage, including damage to spouting and garages.

Insurance Council New Zealand spokesman Samson Samasoni said there was no evidence to suggest premium increases resulted in more homeowners dropping their cover.

"If anything, the Canterbury earthquakes and the shift to sum insured house insurance appears to have generally heightened awareness about the need to be fully covered."

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- The Press

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