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."