Southern Response: Everything you need to know
Types of services: Earthquake-related claim settlement, repairs and rebuilds
Claims processed (as of October 2018): 48,000+
Southern Response is a government-owned company, formerly part of AMI Insurance. It was created in 2012 to help deal with the high costs and claims volumes of the Canterbury earthquakes, which had a profound impact on AMI Insurance and its Canterbury client base.
AMI ended up receiving capital support from the New Zealand government in April 2011, and on the April 05, 2012, AMI separated into the following two companies:
Southern Response: The new name given to AMI’s former earthquake claims management team. In addition to Canterbury-related claims, Southern Response also handles a small number of non-earthquake related claims arising from natural events, such as the 2013 Nelson floods and some snow damage claims.
AMI Insurance: The new company operating under the AMI name. As of April 05 that year, AMI has been owned by IAG, but still operates under its original name and logo to provide day-to-day insurance. AMI is responsible for all damage occurring after April 05, 2012, including earthquake damage.
Southern Response is funded by the reinsurance cover AMI had in place for each earthquake event, and has also retained capital from the sale of AMI to IAG. Additionally, it has access to funds provided by the government if required in order to settle every earthquake claim it is responsible for under the terms of its insurance policies.
Southern Response in the news
2012: AMI Insurance separates into two companies, AMI and Southern Response, to deal with an unprecedented level of claims costs arising from the Canterbury earthquakes.
2016: Southern Response seeks additional funding support from the government based on its latest claims liability valuation, which set the gross costs of its insurance claims at $2.6 billion.
2016: High Court rules that the group of 40 complainants may proceed with a class action against Southern Response. The complainants allege that Southern Response consistently delayed earthquake house repairs and underestimated claims.
2018: Southern Response chair Ross Butler steps down from the insurer’s board following the State Services Commissioner’s report on the company’s use of external security consultants for spying.
2019: Southern Response begins to wind down with only 379 open claims remaining, and plans to shut down by the end of the year.
Key people as of 2019
Anthony Honeybone – Chief executive
Honeybone was appointed as chief executive in September 2017, prior to which he was Southern Response’s general manager – claims settlement. He has led a number of construction and insurance projects over the course of his career, and has an extensive understanding of public policy through his former role with the State Services Commission and the International Labour Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland.
Alister James – Chair
James is a practicing Barrister with extensive experience in health and local government, having served as Christchurch City Councillor for over 20 years. He has also actively participated in the community and voluntary sector, and became a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order (QSO) in the 2004 New Year Honours List. He has also served as a British Honorary Consul.
Anne Urlwin – Deputy Chair
Though originally from Christchurch, Urlwin is now based in Wanaka. She has over 20 years’ experience as a professional director, chartered accountant and business consultant across a wide range of sectors, along with management experience in the IT and meat industries.