3 mins to read

'Awful' performance from some insurers

A Christchurch insurance watchdog slams he performance of some insurers. 

Chris Hutching
Wed, 27 Jun 2012

Some insurance companies look likely to lose a big chunk of their business following the Canterbury earthquakes.

A Christchurch survey of 380 residents by a group called Insurance Watch has returned damming results, especially for IAG-Banks-Lantern, IAG-State and IAG NZI.

“[We] don't trust [the insurance company] one bit after a lying project manager, inept loss adjustor, and non-responsive claims manager, slow progress and failure to listen to any of our requests,” according to one comment from a survey respondent.

The survey results have major implications for the rebuild of Christchurch, with thousands of residents still having no idea if their claims have been accepted or when repair or rebuild work might begin.

Insurance Watch is an initiative of five local residents’ associations.

The group is co-ordinated by Sceptics spokeswoman Vicki Hyde and David Stringer, chairman of the Ferrymead-Brookhaven Residents' Association.

Mr Stringer says stories can vary widely, even when the same company is involved.

Some insurers had done a fantastic job while others stand out for their “awful” performance.

“We have had vulnerable people being pushed to settle on the basis of this – it’s not just unprofessional, it’s offensive,” Mr Stringer says.

For example, the IAG brands rated above 80% in the poor-to-awful ratings for progress of claims (although NZI scored well in other areas).

The IAG-Banks and IAG-State group had four times as many clients as NZI not knowing whether they face a repair or rebuild 17 months after the February 2011 earthquakes.

“We’ve been surprised to see how very, very late IAG-Banks has been in producing scopes in comparison to just about every other insurer out there. The others have been producing scopes of work through the latter half of last year. IAG-Banks have only just begun now,” Mr Stringer says.

Twenty two percent of respondents have yet to have an assessment undertaken, with IAG-State and IAG-Banks accounting for half of that group.

About 75% of respondents have had their insurer complete an assessment, but the quality of these has varied significantly.

Some have been cursory and not updated since the early series of quakes while others have been completed to a high degree and passed on for rebuild or repair.

“Many heartfelt comments that accompanied the survey data talked about documentation that was full of mistakes, a refusal to provide any written confirmation, or assessments that wildly diverged in repair estimates - some by as much as $500,000.”

Mr Stringer is concerned some IAG scope work was undertaken in less than an hour, with the resulting two pages of paperwork containing no identifying names of the property owner, insurer or assessor, no identifying addresses, no date, no letterhead, no land category and no photos or floorplans.

“This in a document which was said to have been checked and peer reviewed. These give the impression of being a basic predetermined template, with very little actual work done on any individual property.

Smaller insurers stand out for their responsiveness, such as Lumley, Medical Assurance and Farmers Mutual Group.

Mr Stringer also praised Westpac, which has recommended Lumley to their clients. Banks recommended insurers to about 15% of respondents.

The survey results showed Westpac customers are significantly happier than clients of ASB or BNZ.

AMI gained a relatively high ranking in the survey for its rate of progress, scoring almost twice the rank of its new IAG owner.

“The contrast with IAG is amazing,” Mr Stringer says.

None of the insurers scored more than about a 50% satisfaction score overall.

For the full report, go to:

Chris Hutching
Wed, 27 Jun 2012
© All content copyright NBR. Do not reproduce in any form without permission, even if you have a paid subscription.
'Awful' performance from some insurers