Real estate boss loses court battle against Tower Insurance

Real estate boss loses court battle against Tower Insurance | Insurance Business

Real estate boss loses court battle against Tower Insurance

A real estate boss has lost his fight against Tower Insurance, and his earthquake settlement claim went against him.

An article by Stuff detailed the case of Hamish Doig, a majority owner of real estate firm Colliers in Christchurch. Doig, together with his wife Karen, bought a waterfront quake-damaged house in as-is condition for $1.55 million in 2012, which came with insurance claims reassigned by the out-going owners. The Doigs allegedly believed they would be able to pursue the claims as they later sought full replacement payout.

Stuff reported a previous hearing heard that an email from Tower during the sales process suggested their insurance settlement would be based on the original policy. Tower later informed the Doigs its liability to them was limited to the indemnity value of the house, and not its rebuild or replacement value.

In 2016, Tower paid the couple $583,000, on top of what EQC had paid. In 2017, the High Court ruled in Tower's favour, saying even demolition of the house would still leave the Doigs in credit, and they did not appear to have been left in a worse financial position.

Now, in the latest ruling, the Appeal Court judges said the original ruling should stand. While the couple claimed they would not have confirmed the house purchase if they thought the insurance payout would be for indemnity value only, the judge ruled the deal was not conditional on confirmation of the type of insurance cover.

The judge also said the email made it clear the writer did not have settlement authority, and “there were enough fish hooks in the letter to place a reasonable recipient in real doubt as to what Tower's ultimate position would be.”

Read more: Update on Christchurch mansion owner vs. Tower legal saga

“We conclude Tower did not make a clear and unequivocal representation as to the Doigs' entitlement to assignment of replacement cover for prior insured events,” the judges said.

The court also ruled that Tower was entitled to costs.