Over seven years on from the Christchurch Earthquakes, many homeowners have still not had their claims resolved. As time goes on, the possibility that insurers will rely on the Limitation Act becomes more likely.
The Limitation Act provides a defence against ligation filed more than six years after the event on which the claim is based. Arguably therefore, the six year period for claims involving the Canterbury Earthquakes has now lapsed. However, in response to mounting public pressure most private insurers have extended this period.
IAG (through its affiliates NZI, Lumley and State) has stated that it will not rely on the Limitation Act as a defence to proceedings if the claim is served on or before 1 July 2018. However, this only applies to those who were IAG customers at the time of the quakes. This extension does not include assignees or body corporate policy holders.
Southern Response has extended their deadline to any claim lodged on or before 4 September 2018. Unlike IAG, Southern Response does not appear (at this stage) to have made any distinction regarding the type of policy owner.
Tower has adopted a much more lenient positon. Tower views the limitation period as being six years from the time the claim was settled or declined rather than the date of the original earthquake event.
Vero, AA and MAS are taking a “case-by-case” approach with customers.
With the potential of the Limitation Act applying to your earthquake claim, time is of the essence. The importance of lodging a claim with your insurer before the relevant deadline expires is particularly significant if your claim only involved EQC. This is because if it transpires that EQC did not adequately repair you property, your private insurer may well raise the Limitation Act defence potentially leaving you hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket.
If you have any concerns about your post-earthquake repairs please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Partner Sarah Manning (DDI 03 343 8456 / firstname.lastname@example.org)