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Christchurch’s red zone residents are calling for an independent Advocacy Commission.
The group wants the commission to act on behalf of residents who are “at the mercy of the insurance companies and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority.”
The spokesman for WeCan, the Wider Earthquake Communities Action Network, is Rev Mike Coleman, an articulate, emerging community leader in central Christchurch.
“There is a need to address the imbalance of power between the householder and the big corporates and government agencies,” Mr Coleman said. “We are being taken to the cleaners. It’s time for some transparency, honesty and accountability.”
Mr Coleman and his helpers phoned the major insurance companies to seek responses to various questions.
“It’s evident there are significant differences between companies and between what they say at head office and what they do on the ground.”
The survey highlights a big difference between AMI and the other providers about the disclosure of itemised costings. AMI refuses to disclose these rates and costs and only releases the global figure in offers to red zone residents.
“This makes it almost impossible to challenge these figures, even with an independent quantity surveyor’s assessment. We believe AMI is failing its contractual obligation to act in good faith with its clients in taking this stance,” Mr Coleman said.
The survey also reveals there is no safe way yet to replace ring foundations and re-pile a home in situ with the home jacked up. Yet many insurance costings are not allowing for homes to be lifted, moved and stored while this work is undertaken.
Recent changes to the building guidelines in the different zones mean existing cost schedules are now unlikely to fully account for the cost of compliance.
“It is also clear from the survey that there is yet no agreed means to reconcile big differences between EQC and insurance company assessments of costs.”
“One of our members in the orange zone was verbally given two figures for the repairs to their house – a ‘red zone figure’ and then a ‘green zone figure,’ which was substantially higher.
“We are firmly of the belief insurance offers based on repairs to red zone homes are well under what it will actually cost insurance companies to repair those homes if they were zoned green. This is a deliberate ploy to get householders to accept the CERA offer for their home.” Mr Coleman said.