Disaster rebuild only 10% complete

Christchurch is only about 10 per cent repaired four years after a destructive 18-month earthquake sequence started, a city business leader says.

Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Peter Townsend told guests at a disaster conference in Wellington yesterday he was positive about where the city was heading ‘‘but the perception runs right through the country that we are well advanced on our recovery’’.

‘‘I know we are about 10 per cent into the physical rebuild and no-one will refute that.’’

10458637The figure of 50 per cent of over $100,000 cap claims being settled gave a misleading picture of progress. There was a huge gap between physical repairs and the settlement figures, he said.

By his calculation, about $4 billion to $4.5b had been spent on physical repairs. The estimated bill is $45b to $50b.

‘‘We musn’t confuse settlement with repair because everything that is cash settled is not repaired.

‘‘Just on the housing stock with the cash settlements, I reckon there’s $4b to $5b sloshing around in people’s bank accounts in Christchurch. That might be a bit high but it’s billions.’’

Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) figures, compiled from a Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority survey, show 50 per cent of over $100,000 cap claims ‘‘settled’’. This means the claim is completed either by cash payment, which includes a cheque to buy another house, or by physical rebuilds and repairs. That 50 per cent is almost 11,400 dwelling claims settled by the end of June of a total of 22,739. Of that, 2203 houses have been physically rebuilt or repaired by insurers.

Another 11,350 over-cap claims are still to be completed.

Prime Minister John Key said at The Press leaders’ debate on Tuesday that 90 per cent of quake claims were ‘‘settled’’. Key’s definition of ‘‘settled’’ included 40 per cent that had reached agreement with insurers but the work has not been completed. ICNZ labels that 40 per cent as ‘‘resolved’’.

Insurance Council spokesman Samson Samasoni said issues including apportionment, slow consenting and foundation repair guidelines were outside the control of insurers. It was expected most over-cap claims would be settled by the end of 2016, although some would ‘‘trickle’’ into 2017.

About 10 per cent of over-cap claims were unresolved.

Samasoni said half of those were either people waiting for Earthquake Commission decisions on land claims or in dispute with insurers, and the other half were people who had not had a settlement offer because of ‘‘incredibly complex’’ claims in multi-unit buildings or shared retaining walls.

Three large insurers, IAG, Southern Response and Tower, agreed to supply numbers on their insurance claims.

IAG has the largest number of claims, 32,685, two thirds of those for driveways, paths, fences and pools while Southern Response has 28,819 including 7084 for dwellings.

Canterbury Communities’ Earthquake Recovery Network spokeswoman Leanne Curtis said there was good progress on more straightforward claims but the group had noticed a breakdown in trust between claimants and EQC and insurers where the issues were more complex.


  • The Press
  • Marta Steeman marta.steeman@press.co.nz


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