Archives for posts with tag: insurance

Just a quick post about Christchurch and the insurance shambles. IAG today reported an increase in profit after tax of 59%, to Australian $1.23B. IAG owns three New Zealand insurance providers – State, AMI and NZI. Here’s how customers ranked those insurers at Insurance Watch:

from insurancewatch.org.nz

Also in the report they said that they have settled 58% of their claims in Christchurch. Of course, the other way of putting that would be that almost 4 years after the first quake, a company that is reporting a 59% increase in after tax profit still hasn’t settled 42% of their claims in the city. 42%! And to be honest, after 4 years, I think that 4.2% would still be too high. People have paid their premiums to these companies for years, for one purpose – to be insured in the event of a disaster. For a company to still have 42% of their claims unsettled, and at the same time, be reporting a 59% increase in profits, shows that the insurance market isn’t working for the people of Christchurch.

This is what can happen when you have your biggest insurer running out of Sydney. Labour would establish KiwiAssure to stop these profits going off-shore. We would also set up an insurance court; it would cost just $1 million to set up, and would speed up the resolution of these claims. The next time you hear the insurance industry criticising these sort of attempts to fix their industry, remember those numbers. 59% increase in profit; 42% of claims unsettled 4 years on.

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Another day in Christchurch, another angry protest, another story on Campbell Live. This one was a small but vocal protest at Southern Response – over 100 people venting their anger. What was interesting was John Campbell’s interview with the chief executive, Peter Rose. I haven’t watched it a second time yet, so I’m not quoting verbatim, but I think I’ve got the gist of it. Campbell asked when all the claims will be settled, and Rose responded that it would be done by the end of 2016. Campbell then asked him whether he meant all of them, and Rose said 90% or more. Campbell then asked what would happen to the remaining 10%, and Rose suggested that they might be in court. Southern Response has about 6500 claims on it’s books – and they aren’t adding any more, as they were the agency set up by the Government to deal with the claims left behind by AMI. So potentially 650 of their customers could still not have their cases sorted by the end of 2016 – close to SIX FULL YEARS after the February quake.

Does anyone think that is at all acceptable? Southern Response have one job. Sure, it’s a complex issue – but a government agency that is aiming for a 10% failure rate when they are dealing with most people’s biggest asset is beyond a joke. The Minister responsible for this (HI GERRY) should be asking some pretty serious questions of Peter Rose and Southern Response. If this is how well the Government-backed insurer is treating it’s clients, I shudder to think what the private sector is getting away with.

UPDATED: here’s the Campbell Story

 

Scum is possibly too polite a word for these people:

The insurer today said its profit margins would be between 16.8 per cent and 17.2 per cent for the financial year that recently finished, significantly higher than previous guidance of 12.5 to 14.5 per cent. Managing director Mike Wilkins said claims from natural disasters were A$470 million ($550 million), compared with its previous assumption they would hit A$620m.

They should be forced to hold their board meeting in Dallington and see how boasting of those sort of profit margins goes down there.

Yesterday, the Press ran a “positive” story from a guy dealing with insurance issues, who just wants us all to be more positive and say things are great etc etc. I didn’t read it, but since it went online, it has led to a lot of comment. And interestingly, commenters have alleged that the man at the centre of the story – Wayne Hurrell – actually works for Southern Response, AMI Insurance’s repair body. 

The Press runs a description or a disclaimer on perspective piece’s in the paper, and this one ran like this:

“Wayne Hurrell is married man with young daughters whose house is on TC3 land. The family had a joint review between their insurance company and the EQC in May 2012. Their house will be repaired, with ownership of the earthquake claim yet to be determined between EQC and the insurer.”

Now, nowhere in that does he say that he works for Southern Response. The Press have to answer the questions raised by the commenters on this story. Does Hurrell work for Southern Response?* If so, did he make this clear to the Press when he offered up this opinion piece? Was it even written by him – or someone in the AMI PR department who decided on Mr Hurrell as a positive face for this propaganda piece?

Aside from the questionable background of Mr Hurrell, the actual content is at times moronic too.

“if you are not planning to leave Christchurch, have your insurance company build you a brand new house”

You know, Mr Hurrell, I’m pretty sure it’s not just that simple. People have been fighting for 2 years, some for 2 and a half, to get their fucking insurance companies just to honour their existing policies. There have been only 600 houses built since September 2010. If it was just a case of being positive and getting your insurance company to build you a new house, then WHY DON’T WE HAVE THOUSANDS OF NEW HOUSES ALL ACROSS THE CITY? You think people are just sitting on their hands? A moron, and possibly an insurance company stooge to boot. 

* I’ve had a quick google, and no definite link. His public page has very little information, apart from saying he supports National. Doesn’t say where he works.

Last night, I stumbled across this blog, which claims to be from an ex-EQC employee who has been posting blogs about the way the organisation runs. I don’t have any way of verifying the legitimacy of the site, which is anonymous. However, given the depth of info, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. It would take someone very creative, and simultaneously, very schooled in the ideas of dull bureaucracy speak to come up with all the writings on said site. It’s worth a look.

I’ve personally heard of some shocking stories from people I know who work for EQC. One of which involved people higher up in management manipulating a claim so that they could sell the property without disclosing the land status – which they knew, but the vendor didn’t. This site may prove to be a way of getting some of these stories out anonymously to the media. Maybe I’ve just been watching too much House of Cards, but I think a few more leaks could be quite timely.

Just over two years ago, EQC had 22 staff. It now has hundreds. As does CERA, as does Fletcher building in Christchurch. These are big organisations, dealing with billions of dollars – and yet, we barely know how they work. In the case of EQC, it could be argued that they’re barely working at all. 70% of claims unsettled after 2 years sounds like failure to me. Taxpayers – not just in Christchurch, but across the country – should be demanding more transparency about how their billions of dollars are being spent. Maybe it’s all going to the right places. Maybe it isn’t. Historically, the construction, insurance and property development industries haven’t been as squeaky clean as they might want us to believe.

A series of big bureaucratic organisations have grown up rapidly in Christchurch to respond to the disaster down here. We need them. We also need them to be accountable. This means ongoing, in-depth reporting – not just parachuting the TV media in for a couple of days in February and another couple of days in September.