“There’s no going back, and there’s no hiding the information. So let everyone have it.”
― Andrew Kantor
For a long time now CanCERN has been asking professionals involved in the recovery to start making some expert noise about what they are seeing happening in the Canterbury resident rebuild – is it good, is it kosher or if it’s not, what’s wrong, what should we be aware of, what questions do we need to ask.
Most have not stepped up in the way we might’ve expected. I suppose if your income for the next 5 (or 20) years is reliant on obtaining rebuild work, you’re not likely to bite the hand that feeds you. However, one professional surveyor has stepped up and written an article which looks at the issue of floor levels. And what an interesting read it is in light of this week’s CCC consenting saga.
The article below looks at how the floor levels were decided for the DBH Guidelines; how EQC and the insurance companies seem to be interpreting the guidelines so that they do not have to repair or replace damaged homes; some recent examples; and finally, recommendations for both the Government and Homeowners.
Thanks to Adrian for sharing this article with CanCERN and the community. If you have any feedback for Adrian please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and it will be passed on.
The DBH Guidelines and EQC – Operation ‘Hoodwink’
Guest article by Adrian Cowie, Director of Topografo Ltd , Registered Professional Surveyor
If you are a homeowner in Canterbury and have made an insurance claim for earthquake damage, then this article
may be of interest to you. However, reader discretion is advised – the conclusions may be alarming.
From the CanCERN Board
CANCERN’S STRATEGIC PRIORITIES
Following the recent AGM the staff and Board have been focussed on completing the strategic priorities, as these are required for any funding application.
The plan focuses on the four key areas
Facilitate community and resident engagement in discussions about the recovery of Christchurch and its communities
Ensure decisions about the recovery of Christchurch and its communities is shaped by the values, priorities and knowledge of residents
Inform residents and member groups about recovery planning and decision-making and CanCERN’s influence on these.
Ensure CanCERN has the capacity to deliver on its strategic priorities
Underpinning all of these and all of CanCERN’s work are the following key principles which will provide the guidelines of how CanCERN will work into the future:
- Information must be transparent and accessible – withholding information at the expense of the people is unacceptable
- The thoughts and the priorities of the people must be known, not assumed
- Active engagement is the only acceptable outcome – co-creation of processes, documents, resolutions, outcomes, etc
- Caring for the people is an intentional action – intentionally assessed, intentionally planned for, intentionally actioned with the people and for the people
- Engagement is designed to progress local resident outcomes and is resident-centric
Now that the Board has signed off the strategic plan, work can be done on developing the following key areas of activity.
- Host Café Conversations – involving members in gathering information
- Co-host theme based meetings / workshops – providing information to members
- Utilise social media and other newsletters, websites, & other medium
- Develop and reiterate key principles
- Develop communication plan
- Target key decisions/ decision making process
In developing the plan CanCERN revisited all the areas of work over the past 2 years to affirm where it should be concentrating its efforts. In doing so it also reiterated the areas where CanCERN does not work:
- Community Development – This has never been the purpose of CanCERN’s and there are other groups and agencies available to support this work
- Support for individuals – this has never been the purpose of CanCERN however we do need to respond occasionally – that is about being credible and relevant to most disempowered
Next steps – Members now need to come together to plan the necessary workshops and conversations and also identify areas of experience and expertise within the organisation’s membership. The Board will set a date for this in the near future and be in touch.
Role of Treasurer
As you are aware Geoff Walker has been employed by CanCERN as their accountant for a number of years. Geoff resigned from that role to take a position on the Board. We have now clarified that he can retain the position of Treasurer whilst being on the Board, and therefore intend to offer Geoff an independent contractor agreement. The Board has reviewed its delegated author arrangements to ensure that there is no conflict of interest and that there are adequate checks and balances in the system./************ get tags and categories ****************/ ?>
Tenants Protection Association Rental Survey Report
Tenants Protection Association (Christchurch) Inc. undertook a survey of the rising costs of residential rental properties in the Greater Christchurch Area post-earthquakes, and the effects these rising costs are having on tenants. The study also investigated the conditions of rental housing. The findings will be used to inform the community and to influence government agencies responsible for housing.
The survey has found that over 85% of tenants in the region are being negatively affected by rent increases. Other survey results :
- Almost 60% of tenants pay over 40% of their annual income in rent
- 70% of tenants have had their rent increased in the 2 years post-earthquakes
- The average rent increase was $ 43 per week
- Half of all tenants report mould in their dwellings
- Less than half of all tenant households are insulated
To view the full rental survey report and recommendations http://tpa.org.nz/page/rental-survey-2013/************ get tags and categories ****************/ ?>
SURVEY RESULTS- Choosing a Settlement Option with your Private Insurer
Thank you to those who filled this survey in. There are some obvious roadblocks in the way of giving some homeowners real confidence in their decision making. The supporting comments though (Click here) also highlight the individualism of the situations. This needs some more thinking about with regard to how CanCERN can work with insurers to affect change.
The collated responses are below:
Who is your insurer?
- AA Insurance 4 6%
- IAG 18 29%
- Southern Response 25 40%
- Tower 5 8%
- VERO 3 5%
- Other 7 11%
What are the reasons why you have not yet accepted your settlement offer from your insurer?
- In the internal formal dispute process 1 2%
- Disputing via the District or High Court Process 4 6%
- Questioning repair methodology 4 6%
- Questioning costings 7 11%
- I don’t have enough information about about my property to make a decision 8 13%
- I don’t have enough information about my land to make a decision 14 23%
- I don’t understand my options well enough to make a decision 2 3%
- I have not yet finished with EQC so am reluctant to make a decision 2 3%
- I need independent support to help me be confident with my decision 1 2%
- I can’t make contact with my case manager to discuss my concerns 0 0%
- I am worried about settling for a dollar figure now which may not be enough by
- the time my rebuild is ready to plan 10 16%
- Other 9 15%
Click here to read the other supporting comments collated from the survey respondents. These have been copied straight from the survey and will be analysed and trends fed back in a future newsletter./************ get tags and categories ****************/ ?>
AA Sum Insured Update
AA Insurance’s guidelines for Canterbury homeowners (and the rest of the country)
Lawrence has written a great blog on AA’s Sum insured update – well worth a read and it also links to the AA information itself.
From the blog – AA Insurance have added a whole set of Q&As to their website for Cantabrians, to assist in coming to grips with the new method of insuring houses. As AA Insurance seem to be the trendsetters for sum insured house policies, the information on their site will be good background material for those insured with other companies. Useful reading too for homeowners outside Canterbury, particularly those in earthquake or flood hazard areas.
The Q&A information applies to both those on the flat, and the hills. Significant questions arise for those on TC3 land (foundation costs), also on TC2 (foundation costs), and everyone in a damaged house. There are differing but equally significant questions regarding foundation costs and retaining walls for those on the hills (retaining wall liability to be capped at $10,000 irrespective of amount factored into the Sum Insured value). There is no/************ get tags and categories ****************/ ?>
SURVEY RESULTS- Southern Response Build to Budget
Thank you to all of those who took the time to input their questions and concerns regarding the Build to Budget Option into CanCERN’s survey. This information has now been collated (Click here) and sent onto Southern Response and ICNZ.
In general terms, the majority of questions relate to the budget itself – calculations and increasing build costs but there are also a number of questions about the management of the budget and the choices people have. Overall the survey highlights some real gaps in information and confidence which we hope will be addressed via this process.
Southern Response are in the process of publishing a pamphlet regarding settlement options and the questions raised here will be considered in the pamphlet. CanCERN will follow up on any outstanding responses./************ get tags and categories ****************/ ?>
A note from Peter Rose, CE at Southern Response
About confusing or contradictory messages you may feel you are receiving from SR case managers or staff:
/************ get tags and categories ****************/ ?>
“In terms of misinformation, we have about 50 now quite skilled staff for overcap. It is possible that there are different nuances in messaging and depending on customers. If people are receiving different information to neighbours and it appears negative, suggest to your constituents that they ask for the team leader for clarification.”
Southern Response – Joint Reviews
As you may recall there has been some discussion about whether or not Southern Response is still initiating Joint Reviews with EQC. The following is our understanding of what is happening:
Southern Response will initiate a Joint Review with EQC if:
- Southern Response believes the claim to be overcap based on their assessment and taking apportionment into account AND
- EQC has made a final decision that they believe the property is undercap based on their assessment and taking apportionment into account
Southern Response will identify that a Joint Review may be necessary and will notify EQC. However any joint review won’t proceed until EQC has confirmed they consider the claim undercap (EQC may need to complete a further assessment or resettlement of the claim).
At this stage there are approximately 100 SR Joint Reviews that have not been actively progressed. This is because they are multi-dwelling claims and they are being internally reviewed by EQC’s multi-dwelling team. Details of how to deal with damage to multi-dwellings are being developed by the industry.
If you believe you should have a Joint Review about your property because EQC and Southern Response assessments differ regarding undercap or overcap status and you are having trouble getting Southern Response to initiate one, please feel free to forward your details to email@example.com. We will pass it on and either get clarity on why it has not been initiated or have someone contact you to discuss initiating the Joint Review./************ get tags and categories ****************/ ?>
Know where you stand – a new EQC webpage
Know where you stand is a new webpage aimed at providing very basic statistical information on the progress EQC has made, and what is happening in EQC’s programme of contacting all claimants.
The information is not going to let you know all you want to know however the page may become a means of finding out what is happening, or scheduled to happen. For instance the page advises that this week EQC is contacting those who have elected to opt-out. The page is here.
EQC Update on Customer Contacts
To get the right information to the right customers, EQC are going through an extensive data sorting exercise. We have defined 32 different customer groups. Because of the complexity of their situations, many customers fall into more than one group. For this reason we are putting the groups into a hierarchy to ensure customers only receive one letter per exposure. To complicate matters the data sets are constantly changing as we get new information, claims move through the settlement process and new claims are received. We are not able to get the data absolutely correct so unfortunately there are bound to be some errors. We are asking customers to contact us if they believe they have been incorrectly categorised.
During the last three weeks we have contacted customers in the following groups:
- Joint review requested by insurer
- Total loss being determined
- Multi-unit dwellings
- Self-management of repairs by opting out of the Canterbury Home Repair Programme
We are also in the process of contacting these customer groups:
- Going through the apportionment and settlement process to determine whether over cap or to be transferred to the Canterbury Home Repair Programme
- Awaiting joint review by EQC and the insurer
- With Fletcher EQR. Scoping visits have been booked or the repairs are underway
- With Fletcher EQR but repair deferred at home owner request
- With Fletcher EQR and awaiting repairs by nominated contractor
- With Fletcher EQR but customer can not be contacted
- With Fletcher EQR and repair will be completed next year
- Pre-existing building issues
- Rest homes
- Full or partial cash settlement for a myriad of reasons e.g. voluntary demolition of dwelling or the owner has elected to undertake a substantial improvement/significant renovation of dwelling
- Customer-authorised repairs
- Cash settled for less than $15,000 damage
Customers with land and content claims will also receive letters, emails or phone calls.
By mid July the majority of the customers will have been contacted./************ get tags and categories ****************/ ?>
EQC have updated their Canterbury FAQs
EQC have updated their Canterbury FAQs here.
The change involves the addition of a new section on cash settlements where claims are under $15,000. You can find them toward the bottom of the page, or click on the link just below to continue reading them on the blog.
Under $15,000, cash settlement – How do I know if I have an <$15,000 Claim?
Some simple steps you can take to work out if you have an under $15K claim with EQC, consider the following points:
- Your damage consists of superficial cracking, falling indoor tiles, plastering, wallpapering and cracks in your walls, or other non-structural damage.
- Your claim or claims relate to a stand-alone dwelling rather than multi-unit building.
If the above points describe your situation, then your overall home repairs are likely to cost less than $15,000 and you will probably be cash settled.
Why is EQC cash settling claims for under $15,000?
Where the damage is cosmetic in nature and simply requires repairs such as plastering, painting and wallpapering, it makes sense to pay these claims in cash, so homeowners can get on with doing the repairs themselves or organising someone to do it for them.
Why are Multi-unit buildings with minor cosmetic damage not settled at the same time?
A multi-unit building is a building containing two or more units or flats which share structural elements such as foundations or party walls. This includes houses that have been divided into two or more flats, as well as purpose-built buildings that have more than one unit/flat in them, e.g. apartments, townhouses or blocks of flats.
Multi-unit building claims have a number of complexities that don’t apply to stand-alone houses. This includes the requirement of EQC to assess the whole building as well as the individual units in that building to determine an appropriate repair strategy. All flat owners in the building may need to agree on that repair strategy, if it is likely to impact on structural elements in the building. Even if some individual units contain only non-structural damage, those units may be affected by structural repairs required to the building./************ get tags and categories ****************/ ?>
New EQC booklet – Settling land claims
EQC have released a new booklet that provides a summary of the land settlement claim process. There is information in the booklet on:
- What land is covered?
- The six steps in the settlement process.
- The land settlement pack
- Complex claims
For the last point EQC consider complex claims to involve land with:
- Increased vulnerability to liquefaction
- Increased vulnerability to flooding
- Shared land claims (for example, multiple dwellings on a single title)
- Land with damage to structures such as retaining walls, bridges and culverts
A copy can be downloaded from here/************ get tags and categories ****************/ ?>
The Canterbury Wellbeing Index
The Canterbury Wellbeing Index (the Index) tracks the progress of the social recovery using indicators to provide information on the impacts of the earthquakes on wellbeing and to identify emerging social trends and issues. The Index helps CERA and partner agencies make decisions about the most efficient way to target funds and resources. It also provides accurate and robust information to the community.
The Index consists of a range of indicators structured around health, knowledge and skills, economic wellbeing, social connectedness, civil participation, housing, safety and people. It is a collaborative project across local and central government agencies. The Index is updated and revised twice yearly. This is the first edition. For accurate information about the timeliness of the data see the technical notes for each indicator.
The full document can be downloaded at http://cera.govt.nz/recovery-strategy/social/canterbury-wellbeing-index