In a report in the NZ Herald, it was stated that Derek Ricky Bligh, owner of a two-storey Georgian-style house, was unable to prove there were major structural damages to his property during the 2010 Canterbury earthquake for which either EQC or IAG could be liable, meaning his insurers do not have to pay.
Bligh’s property insurance was with State, now IAG, and, because of the policy, his home was covered by the EQC. He reportedly said the cost of repair would be in excess of $950,000.
The publication detailed that initial assessments by EQC suggested there was earthquake damage - but follow-up investigations proved otherwise. However, Bligh – a retiree with Parkinson’s disease, heart disease and terminal cancer – was adamant the assessors were wrong and so the dispute went to a hearing at the High Court in Christchurch in late February and early March. NZ Herald reports Bligh also made a claim against EQC and IAG for general damages to the sum of $25,000 because, he alleged, their conduct had caused him substantial distress, inconvenience and mental anguish, which the insurers disputed.
Justice Gerald Nation’s judgment outlined that he had difficulties with Bligh’s credibility. He said the evidence before him was unable to prove earthquake damage to Bligh’s house. Additionally, while the court acknowledged that the EQC’s refusal to accept Bligh’s claim caused him considerable stress, the evidence did not establish that either the EQC or IAG had acted unreasonably or in breach of their contractual obligations.
In addition, Justice Nation noted that EQC made an offer before an October 2016 hearing to bring the dispute to an end, which “would have been significantly to [Bligh’s] benefit.”
All of Bligh’s claims for remediation costs of $596,249, general damages of $25,000 against EQC and IAG, and also an order for IAG to pay the fees he incurred with engineers, surveyors, building consultants and legal advisers, failed.