The Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) has hit back at Canterbury activist Cam Preston following his accusation that the insurer body’s latest statistics are ‘wrong’.
ICNZ put out figures this week saying insurers had settled 20% more claims in 2015 than the 2014, with nearly 5,400 major repairs and rebuilds completed last year.
CEO Tim Grafton said insurers had now fully settled $16.7 billion, or 75% of over cap residential Canterbury earthquake claims and 89% of all residential property claims.
He said over 90% of commercial claims had been settled and the figure would be much higher when the $635 million Christchurch City Council settlement as included.
However, outspoken activist and accountant Cam Preston has accused insurers of ‘overstating’ the rate of progress and questioned the accuracy of the figures.
Preston said according to data supplied to ICNZ by its members via the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE), only 2,430 repairs and 2,865 rebuilds had been completed by ICNZ members in Canterbury in the 5+ years since the earthquake sequence began.
“Their own data contradicts their CE’s statement and the vast majority of those rebuilds and repairs (13,663 or 72% of all settlements) have been cash settled so let’s not jump to the conclusion that these are “builders on the ground” completed repairs and rebuilds,” he said.
“There are thousands of homes in the same condition as they were after the quakes which in itself could create another problem.”
Preston continued: “Not only are Mr Grafton’s statements wrong, but he is obfuscating.
“This means the reality, which is that the private insurance industry is less than 50% of the way through their repair and rebuild programmes, and more worryingly they are actually slowing down, is lost.
“The delays to rebuilds and repairs are designed to save the insurers money by wearing policyholders down, who after 5+ years have run out of patience and energy, so simply throw in the towel and accept low ball cash offers,” he said.
ICNZ were quick to release another statement refuting Cam Preston’s accusations.
Grafton said: “Cameron Preston misrepresents the progress being made on the Canterbury residential rebuild.”
The figures could be explained in the following way, he said: “Insurance Council members settled 5,392 major repairs and rebuilds in 2015 taking the total settled since the earthquakes to 18,958.
“Of that total, 5,295 were repaired or rebuilt by a company contracted by an insurer and the balance of 13,663 were repairs/rebuilds managed by the insured through another company.
“There has been a record number of consents granted in Canterbury for repairs/rebuilds reflecting the insurance settlements of almost 19,000 residential properties.
“In addition to this, insurers have also settled 61,677 property claims where damage occurred that is not covered by EQC.”
Grafton refused to be drawn on Preston’s motivation for presenting the figures in such a way.
Preston made headlines last year after his insurer, Southern Response
, called the cops on him.
The government insurer had said they briefed police after the tone of Preston’s daily emails had become ‘progressively threatening [and] intimidating’ over the past six months.
A Southern Response
spokesperson said at the time they had stopped short of laying an official complaint but involved the police because they took that kind of behaviour seriously.