New boss to oversee the final chapter of Southern Response

Anthony Honeybone, the new chief executive of Southern Response.

Anthony Honeybone, the new chief executive of Southern Response.

The government-owned Christchurch-based company settling Canterbury earthquake claims has a new chief executive, Anthony Honeybone.

He will oversee the final chapter of Southern Response, forecast to be at the end of 2018 as it clears up the last earthquake claims. 

Honeybone has been with Southern Response for nearly three years as general manager of claims settlements.

He will replace Peter Jensen​ who will take on the role of chief executive of Addington Raceway.

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Southern Response acquired the earthquake claims of AMI Insurance which was undercapitalised and unable able to pay claims after the 2011 earthquakes.

The government has funded Southern Response with more than $1.5 billion to settle claims. 

Honeybone's earlier experience included general manager of assessment and project manager Stream Christchurch, subsequently rebranded Symetri, and six months at Corbel Construction in 2010.

Southern Response undertook "an extensive search" for a new executive using an external recruitment company, chairman Ross Butler said.

"We had a strong field of internal and external candidates. Anthony impressed the board with his mix of commercial expertise and community commitment," Butler said.

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"Anthony has already led a number of complex projects during his career and provided pivotal leadership evolving the claims settlement approach at Southern Response. 

"He has a strong commitment to our customers and is perfectly positioned to lead the organisation in the final stages as we work to settle our remaining customers' claims fairly and as quickly as possible," according to Butler.

Honeybone will take up the top job on September 18 and said he was looking forward to leading the Southern Response team through the important final stages of the claims process.

"Southern Response is playing a significant role in our city's recovery. I have lived and worked here and am looking forward to bringing to this role my skills, experience and understanding to continue making a difference," Honeybone said.

Southern Response had settled 88 per cent of over-cap claims (above $115,00 each) and nearly all its other claims.

But in keeping with other insurance companies, Southern Response has faced legal claims from residents dissatisfied about the quality of response.

In July, Southern Response said it would appeal against a successful High Court class action and preferred to deal individually with claimants.

It said it had settled with 20 of the 46 people in the class action and warned those who continued "could be significantly worse off" after paying lawyers and an Australian litigation company.

Southern Response became a Crown-owned Company in April 2012, after selling following the sale of its non-earthquake related AMI business to IAG.

The total estimated claims liability increased since April 2012 to a gross estimated $3.2b by March 2017, with some recoveries from the sale of AMI and liquidation of assets, according to the company's statement of intent published earlier this year.

It said nearly all claims would be settled by the end of 2018. Staff numbers had reduced from 160 to fewer than 120.

Southern Response has a building agreement with Arrow International and both teams were reduced by a total of 24 in 2016, with 20 roles disestablished from Southern response this year and a similar number at Arrow.

The earthquakes from September 2010 to April 2012 resulted in the company receiving over-cap claims on 8232 houses, 21,000 out of scope property claims, 2100 contents claims, 3350 claims for temporary accommodation and 700 claims for loss of rent. 

 - Stuff


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