Case Studies

  • Case study: Karen

    An Avondale couple credits the Residential Advisory Service (RAS) with helping them reach a long sought-after resolution with their insurance company over their damaged home.

    Karen and her husband’s double storey home sustained substantial damage during the February 2011 earthquake and additional damage in subsequent events. Most significant were the crack through the foundation and buckling of the home’s wooden frame. Liquefaction was both inside and outside their home - two rooms could not be used and had to be sealed off.

    In 2012 the insurer's loss adjustor assessed the damage as a repair.

    "We couldn’t understand how the costings were right, given the amount of damage we could see," says Karen.

    The couple went to community meetings, spent hours getting information and advice from Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and Christchurch City Council, and read up on planning and building law.

    "We were across the road from the red zone and our neighbours on the green TC3 side of the street were deemed rebuilds.  This was dismissed by the loss adjuster who advised that because ours was a double storey home, it would be a repair," says Karen.

    "Our bank asked what would happen if the repair started and substantially more damage was uncovered. The response was 'whatever the cost it would be a repair'."

    The repair would involve lifting the house, repairing and raising the foundation, then lowering the house. The raised foundation would mean the house would exceed height and recession plane restrictions.  The solution offered by the loss adjustor was to move the house by a metre.

    "It felt as though this one person had our lives in his hands and no matter what we said or evidence presented the response would remain the same."

    Their bank suggested the couple contact RAS. At the end of May 2014 they met with a RAS Independent Advisor who, following the meeting went through their documentation, contacted the loss adjustor and worked with the insurer to understand the couple’s policy and rights.

    A multi-party meeting was organised by the Independent Advisor for her, Karen, her husband and two representatives from the insurers.

    Prior to this meeting the Independent Advisor had organised another meeting with the loss adjustor and the Council. However, in July, before this took place their insurers told Karen and her husband that the repair had become a rebuild and made them an offer.

    The multi-party meeting took place, in October, to discuss the rebuild offer. During the course of the meeting the offer was increased and agreement reached.

    "It was a complete turnaround – the Independent Advisor had achieved what we had been struggling to do," says Karen. "The process was exhausting and has taken its toll physically and psychologically but we have the outcome we want and we believe deserved all along. We would recommend RAS to everyone who is struggling to get through the process."

  • Case Study: Jenni and Noel

    Stuck in a rebuild deadlock, a Sydenham couple says a multi-party meeting initiated by the Residential Advisory Service (RAS) was a massive turning point.

    Jenni and Noel’s home sustained earthquake damage that put them over cap. In mid- 2013, the property went from a repair to a rebuild. The couple approached RAS in early 2014 with doubts over the amount allocated by their insurer for the rebuild.

    "Discussions about the cost of the rebuild went backwards and forwards between the builder and insurer. We felt completely in the dark. We weren’t included in those discussions but felt stuck in the middle and didn’t know what to believe," says Jenni.

    "We met the RAS Independent Advisor and received really good advice on what was reasonable to expect and what we should do."

    The Independent Advisor endorsed Jenni and Noel’s idea of employing a professional quantity surveyor. "This was a great step forward – getting independent advice."

    Jenni and Noel were about to sign off detailed building plans when the March 2014 floods hit. Water was over half a metre high in their garage - they lost a car – and it meant a rethink of the plan. A new plan was developed within four weeks as required by their insurer, and approved, but then new issues emerged with their builder.

    "It took hours to go through the detail. We felt the design and specs had been ‘dumbed down’ to fit the budget. Much of the external work such as paths and paving had been omitted, ceramic tiles in the bathroom became lino, concrete steps become wooden steps and fittings were inferior," says Jenni.

    Because of the eventual relationship breakdown with the builder, the Independent Advisor organised a multi-party meeting late last year. The meeting included an independent facilitator, Jenni and Noel, their quantity surveyor and earthquake support coordinator, the Independent Advisor and both a new case manager and loss adjustor from the insurer.

    Jenni says, "The facilitator created a relaxed environment and we felt hugely supported. Lots of goodwill was generated to move our case on. It was a huge relief after more than a year of hard work and feeling constantly highly stressed.

    “We don’t have an agreement or final figures yet but great movement forward. It feels as though we are 90 per cent of the way there."

  • Case study: Jane

    A Papanui couple say the Residential Advisory Service (RAS) was a much needed circuit breaker when progress with their home repair claim appeared to have ground to a halt.

    Jane and David's double storey home sustained substantial structural damage in the February 2011 earthquake. Most significant was the displacement of the foundations.

    They have been in disagreement with their insurer over a repair approach to the foundations since being supplied with a 120-page scope of works in November 2013.

    Discussions with the insurer’s project manager and requests for copies of reports continued until August 2014.

    "It then went quiet. We were getting nowhere, no response. Did we need to get our own engineer’s report? We didn’t know what we should do," says Jane.
    A work colleague suggested they contact RAS.

    On 8 December 2014 they met with a RAS Independent Advisor.

    "We made sure we were well organised, brought all the correspondence and information we had and were clear about our issues."

    The Independent Advisor reviewed the documentation. She undertook to contact their insurer about their responsibilities and refer their case to the RAS technical panel for peer-review.

    Four days later, they heard back from the Independent Advisor including a response from the technical panel which provided recommendations and additional technical information.

    A letter from Jane and David’s insurer arrived on 23 December 2014, indicating they had read the advice from the Independent Advisor along with the technical panel recommendations and acknowledging that there were other potential options for repairing the foundations.

    Jane says, "We’ve got a way to go yet – our issues are far from being resolved – but we were amazed at what RAS achieved in just a couple of weeks compared with us over 10 months.  Discussions with our insurer resumed, we feel we have direction and are moving forward. And, I have the confidence that if we encounter any more road blocks I could go back to RAS."

  • Case study: Russell Bent

    A Burwood home owner says he can finally get on with his life after the Residential Advisory Service (RAS) helped resolve his home repair situation.

    Russell Bent's house suffered serious structural damage in the February 2011 earthquake. The foundations had sunk and required lifting and underpinning.
    Mr Bent spent 15 months in discussions with EQC before the claim was deemed over cap and handed to his insurance company.

    He began negotiations with his insurer, wanting to project manage the repairs to his home himself rather than go through the insurer's project management company.

    Five insurance company case managers and multiple reports later, agreement on the repair figure was no further ahead.

    Mr Bent turned to RAS for a way forward. "I was fed up and exhausted. It felt like I had been going it alone for so long and was drowning in reports."

    Mr Bent met with a RAS Independent Advisor in early 2014. Following that meeting, the Independent Advisor accompanied him to a meeting with his current insurance case manager, who flew in especially from the North Island.

    The parties were unable to reach an agreement and by August 2014 negotiations seemed to be at an impasse. As a way forward the Independent Advisor requested a multi-party facilitated meeting. This is where all the parties are brought together with a RAS independently appointed facilitator to try to reach agreement on either a way to progress the claim or a final resolution. However, before a meeting was scheduled a cash settlement figure was agreed.

    Mr Bent says connecting with RAS was a turning point. "My life was in limbo. I don't think I would have been able to get resolution without RAS.  The service brought closure and now I'm able to get on with my life."

  • Case study: Raewyn Willocks and Andy Carr

    Raewyn Willocks and Andy Carr.

    Relieved: Raewyn Willocks and Andy Carr are grateful for the help of the Residential Advisory Service.

    Cashmere Hills home owners Raewyn Willocks and Andy Carr were at the end of their tether trying to negotiate with their insurer over a troublesome deck – that is until someone suggested they try the Residential Advisory Service (RAS).

    The couple’s insurer had been well into repairs on their multi-level hillside house before an impasse over the front poolside deck brought everything to a halt.

    They’d assumed the insurer would cover the repairs, as the damage to the deck was on the original scope of works, but they eventually received an offer of less than $2,000 towards it. An independent quote costed the repairs, including geotechnical investigations, at between $60,000 and $80,000.

    Raewyn Willocks says the situation caused them a huge amount of stress.

    “We tried really hard to resolve the issue with the insurer but we were getting nowhere. Meanwhile, the repairs to the rest of the house stopped, causing us more stress as we couldn’t move on and the house had already been empty since January 2013 when repairs began.”

    Raewyn says after a phone call to RAS, that all changed.

    They met with an independent advisor who then worked with a dedicated RAS liaison staff member at the couple’s insurance company to achieve a positive resolution.

    “When we called to follow up, we were told the insurer had accepted responsibility for the deck and it will be fully reinstated at their cost. This was a huge relief to us."

    “We were so fortunate to hear about the service and right from our initial meeting we felt confident of a fair hearing. I would recommend the service to anyone with ongoing insurance issues as the independent advisors will be honest and advise whether or not they feel the client has a case. Having an advisor, who has an established relationship with the insurance companies, to get free advice from, is amazing.”

  • Case study: John

    John had received a range of different information in relation to his EQC claim. Each time he rang EQC he got told a different story. He was advised during his last call that his claim had been placed on hold pending an insurance requested assessment. John felt he had reached an impasse as he hadn’t requested the assessment and as far as he was aware neither had his insurer.

    John heard that RAS worked with both EQC and the insurers, so he decided to contact RAS to see if they could help him move his claim forward.

    John met with a RAS Independent Advisor. Following the meeting, the Independent Advisor rang their established contacts in EQC to clarify their position and then rang the insurer to check if they had instructed EQC to carry out an assessment, which they hadn’t as John suspected. The Independent Advisor then rang EQC to confirm the position and have them update John’s file. This enabled EQC to recommence work on John’s claim.

    Within three weeks John had received a call from Fletchers EQR to arrange a time to carry out a final scope of works. John is now progressing his claim and looking forward to being able to start work on his property.

  • Case study: Sue

    Sue – (not her real name) has had various assessments with EQC and her insurer, and received a scope of works which she believed was inadequate.

    Sue alerted EQC and her insurer to the missing earthquake damaged items, along with her issues and concerns and her desire to progress. She turned to RAS for assistance.

    The RAS Independent Advisor started by clarifying Sue’s legal position according to the Earthquake Commission Act and other applicable legislation. They also checked her entitlements according to Sue’s insurance policy. RAS staff offered to liaise directly with EQC and her insurer on her behalf, which Sue was happy to agree to.

    EQC and her insurer said that the final assessment hadn’t yet occurred as they were currently waiting to engage an engineer to complete the job. They noted the missing items raised by Sue on their files and suggested that Sue should wait for the final assessment and provided the likely timeframes.

    RAS was able to obtain information to reassure Sue that EQC and her insurer were still progressing her claim and that they had noted the missing items from the original assessment. Sue now has a better understanding of her entitlements under her policy and is awaiting the final assessment. Once this has been received Sue will be able to rely on the advice she has received. If there are any on-going issues or concerns she can re-enter the service for additional support and guidance.

  • Case study: Lesley

    Sixty-eight year old Lesley’s property was zoned red a year after the 22 February 2011 earthquake. She then bought a section classified green TC2 after her insurer offered her a ‘like for like’ rebuild.

    Following a geo-tech report on her new section, she was advised that her new house would need improved foundations in line with the updated requirements for building on TC2 land. However, her insurance policy only covered the old slab and footing foundation.

    Angry, stressed, anxious and frustrated, Lesley looked for support and answers but in the end any dealings with her insurance company just became too hard. She was at the point of giving up.

    A friend gave her the contact details for an Earthquake Support Coordinator. After meeting with the coordinator, she started to see progress.

    Lesley’s coordinator contacted her insurance company on her behalf to request her scope of works. Lesley also registered with the Residential Advisory Service. She met with an RAS Independent Advisor in a community venue close to her current home so she could get there easily.

    As Lesley’s insurance position was unclear, the Independent Advisor reviewed her policy and her insurance entitlements. He then gave her independent legal advice and told her what evidence he needed to continue negotiations with the insurance company.

    With this support, Lesley could move forward. She has now been offered an acceptable settlement and her rebuild is about to begin.

  • Case study: Albert

    Albert is an elderly but active war veteran who was having issues with the settlement of his earthquake claim with his insurer. He was concerned as the insurer had made a decision to cash settle his claim for the driveway paths and fences.

    He was worried that the cash settlement would not be enough to get the driveway reinstated plus the condition it was in as a result of the earthquakes was a safety issue for him.

    Albert turned to the Residential Advisory Service to assist him with his issues. After an initial meeting with the Independent Advisor where Albert discussed his situation the Advisor arranged a meeting with the insurer to discuss his concerns.

    As a result of those discussions the insurer revised their position and decided not to cash settle the driveway portion and due to his age and the safety risks undertook an urgent repair in a matter of weeks.

    The Independent Advisor is still in negotiations with the Insurer regarding the fence claim and will shortly be contacting Albert to inform him of a more favourable cash settlement offer from the Insurer.