“One step at a time, as long as it’s forward. ”
Do you remember way back to just after the quakes when we talked to each other about opportunities and solutions that would move us forward in leaps in bounds? We knew we had problems, and although we were naive in terms of the size and scale of them, we also had an outpouring of ideas about how things could be better. CanCERN was founded on that energy and the belief that our wisdom as affected residents within a wider community would play a vital role in informing the ‘experts’ of earthquake recovery.
We acknowledge it has taken a long time and a whole lot of hard work from many people to get recovery agencies to see the true value residents bring to finding solutions. CanCERN has had an easier time than most in getting access to the right people to advocate for solutions that are resident focused. Some will question whether we’ve managed to make any difference at all because, for them, life isn’t getting any easier and they just want and need their individual problems sorted.
But we have made a difference and we’re taken more seriously than ever at an agency level, with many finally realising the importance and benefit of the resident voice.
What we’re struggling with at the moment is the ability to advocate for resident-led solutions to the many problems that still exist.
Why? Well there’s a complexity to that question. Firstly, there is an over-dominance of conversations in the community that regurgitate the same problems again and again. Solutions thinking is generally difficult to interject into this conversation as people are still waiting to be acknowledged for their issue. Secondly, there are some loud voices in the community who shout conspiracy and mistrust. Often their comments are founded in a truth of sorts but the focus is on warning rather than overcoming issues in a proactive way. Thirdly, many people are just over it – too weary, worried, hurt and now deeply in avoidance mode. Kiwis are not terribly practised at confronting people constructively. We don’t send food back in restaurants but we will complain loudly to everyone else about how bad it was. We are doing the same thing with our recovery issues.
We understand why this happens and empathise with residents who feel so drastically stuck and powerless. And it’s not that cynicism, anger, weariness and helplessness (the list goes on) aren’t valid emotions to be feeling – they most definitely are, and we feel them too – but what’s important is making sure you don’t get so caught up in them that you miss opportunities to help solve some of the very problems that cause the anguish.
You don’t have to try and feel negative, it’s a natural response to a tough situation. Having a solutions-focused mindset, on the other hand, is harder because it’s a choice that requires a certain level of hope.
So what are we asking of you?
- Participate in our surveys and workshops asking for ideas
- Share any successes with your networks
- Make the most of opportunities for help (e.g. RAS, CIAS, In The Know) and if they don’t work for you, feed back the constructive criticism
- Take note of attempts to do things differently
Not an easy mindset but surely a more beneficial one.
Help us find solutions for the stuck
CanCERN is hosting two small group focus group sessions on Monday 11 August (10.30am-12.00pm and 7.00pm-8.30pm) to unpack what has people stuck in the claims and repair/rebuild process, and what helps to ‘unstick’ them. We would love to hear your ideas, so if you’d like to know more or join us please click on the link here.
We are currently planning a pilot with an insurer and your information will help us make the pilot a good one.
Here is a rough outline of the topics we will be covering.
- Issues or blockages currently preventing claims from moving forward
- The relationship with the insurer/Project Management Office?
- specific examples of positive/negative experiences
- the consequences/results of these experiences
- Resident-centric customer service. What would help to make homeowners:
- feel more confident about the process
- be more trusting of the insurer
- make a confident decision
- make progress with the claim
- understand the policy better
- understand the claims process more clearly
- Existing earthquake support services – what works and what doesn’t?
- Using social media for support/progress
Be educated about all things (flat) land
What came of the ground improvement trials?
How can I be in the council Flood Management Area and not have an Increased Flood Vulnerability letter?
How come I dug 200 wheelbarrows of liquefaction and don’t have land subsidence?
What does a hazard notice on my land mean?
Does anyone care about sea level rise?
These are just a handful of the questions we hear in the community about land and we know there are hundreds of others. It is sometimes hard to know when to make a decision about your home when you feel like you don’t have all the information.
CanCERN is supporting the planning of a land information centre for the month of September. This multi-agency approach is designed to share what is known about land and to talk about how decisions relating to your land and building/s are being made.
The idea is for the agencies to bring the information together in a way that is visual, interactive, and aimed at making the links between what they know and where decisions have come from. Seminars will also be planned so that we can hear from experts about specific topics, and some friendly community people will be there to have a coffee and a chat too.
To make this centre as helpful as it can be we would like your ideas. What are you really burning to know about land? What is the most helpful information the agencies can present to make sense of it all?
If you are keen to help make this event great click here to leave your thoughts. We will gather them up, share them with the agencies, and make sure they are reported back through the newsletter as well.
If your questions relate to the Port Hills, we would ask that you are a little more patient. Hopefully planning for a hills specific event will happen after the flat land event.
This is a positive step for our understanding. Let’s make the most of it./************ get tags and categories ****************/ ?>
Land settlement Q & A
The EQC Community Advisory Group met a few weeks ago and some good questions about Increased Liquefaction Vulnerability (ILV) and Increased Flood Vulnerability (IFV) were asked. They are not complex questions, but as you will see from some of the responses, the answers are still not finalised, which makes this a difficult topic to be specific about.
Having sat in on many agency planning meetings lately, we can say in all honesty that these are not deliberately vague responses – there really are not definitive answers for ‘everything land’ yet. So although the information below won’t make everything ultimately clear, we believe it is still our role to keep the information coming out so you can see where EQC is at.
Another quick note to point out again – because we have seen plenty of confused conversation on the social media pages lately – EQC land settlement payments to date have only been for category 1-7 visible damage or retaining wall settlements. ILV (the old category 8) and IFV (the old category 9) have not been settled yet. Even if you received a letter stating any payment was final settlement, or that there was no visible land damage to be settled, that only relates to visible damage. You could still be identified as IFV (you would have been informed about your status as potentially IFV by now) or ILV (letters are still to come out).
1. Is IFV/ILV assessed against separate events triggering a claim response for multiple events?
EQC is still working through the apportionment approach for complex land damage. We have developed a policy (IFV Policy) that will be used by EQC in relation to the settlement of claims for natural disaster damage to residential land that is affected by IFV.
EQC has filed proceedings to seek Declarations in the High Court that EQC is entitled to prepare and apply the IFV Policy and that the IFV Policy is appropriate, rational and consistent. EQC is awaiting the outcome of those proceedings before applying the IFV Policy.
Under the IFV Policy, in order for insured residential land to qualify as having IFV, the residential land must satisfy the following:
Gate 1: The exacerbated flood depth on the residential land has increased by 0.2 m or more as a result of the Canterbury earthquake sequence.
Gate 2: The exacerbated flood depth on the residential land has increased by 0.1 m or more as a result of a single earthquake event.
Gate 3: The residential land has suffered observable land damage as a result of the Canterbury earthquake sequence.
Gate 4: The change in flooding vulnerability to the residential land has caused the value of the property to decrease.
The counterclaims in the High Court Declaratory Judgment proceedings have raised issues about the policy for ILV. An ILV Policy has yet to be finalised for filing with the High Court.
2. Is ILV assessed across the whole of the insured land area?
3. If repair is required is it limited to ‘habitable’ buildings or is repair also required for land holding outbuildings etc?
EQC will generally settle claims for natural disaster damage to residential land where the damage to the land includes IFV and ILV by payment (rather than reinstatement). Any settlement will consider the full insured area.
4. What impact does IFV have on the feasibility of ILV remediation?
The feasibility of ILV remediation will need to be looked at for each property on a case by case basis, taking into account the particular IFV damage for the insured land.
This would be in circumstances where both ILV and IFV were being settled on the basis of repair costs. Where DOV was being used to settle IFV then there would be no impact on the ILV remediation.
(CanCERN has asked for more clarity what the possible impacts may be. It seems this may be an unanswerable question that may become clearer after the analysis of the Ground Improvement Trials and the outcome of the Declaratory Judgement. )
5. Will EQC re-address Jack & Pack reinstatements if land is confirmed ILV?
Not as part of the EQC land claim.
However, the Christchurch City Council has filed a counterclaim as part of the Declaratory Judgment that residential buildings have also suffered IFV. The High Court decision on that point may inform the answer to your question about EQC Jack & Pack repairs.
6. What criteria are being used to assess impact of ILV on value of property?
The counterclaims in the High Court Declaratory Judgment proceedings have raised issues about the policy for ILV. The ILV Policy has yet to be finalised for filing with the High Court.
7. How is EQC going to calculate/apportion land damage and settlement payments for individual properties when ownership is in equal shares of the whole fee simple title?
In order to answer this question, we would need specific details of the ownership to which you refer – e.g. is the scenario a cross lease? unit title development? tenants in common in equal shares? etc.
8. If a property has already been reinstated with heavy duty foundations will the homeowner still qualify for settlement if confirmed ILV?
Yes, if the damage to the insured land complies with the ILV thresholds in accordance with the (eventual) ILV Policy.
9. How will red-zoners who have retained ownership of their land be settled if confirmed ILV?
On the same basis as other EQC customers who are confirmed to have ILV in accordance with the (eventual) ILV Policy./************ get tags and categories ****************/ ?>
The latest on Multi Unit Buildings (MUBs)
Another piece of information from EQC. MUBs people have been looking for clarity about how their repairs will be handled for a long time. Hopefully this approach will make progress happen and identify those people who are going to need additional support to make big decisions with neighbours.
Dependent MUB combos
Setting the scene
- Among the most difficult building claims for EQC to settle are those relating to multi-unit buildings (MUBs). MUBs are typically semi-detached and terraced houses which share common structural parts, such as foundations, party walls or a roof.
- EQC has worked through 21,000 multi-unit buildings and has so far (end of July 2014) settled two thirds of them either by repairing or cash settling them. As for the remaining buildings, EQC has determined how they will be settled for almost all except the most complex ones.
What’s a ‘dependent MUB combo’?
- Most dwellings in multi-unit buildings have different owners and often have separate insurers. Where the repair is confined to a single dwelling, or there is a common insurer such as in a body corporate, the path forward is relatively straightforward.
- However, repairs are often required to shared structural elements in the building, such as foundations, external walls and roofs. This requires agreement between owners and insurers as repairs to individual dwellings cannot be done in isolation but are dependent on other dwellings in the building. We’re calling such MUBs ‘dependent MUB combos’.
- And it is these approximately 80 MUBs, involving around 130 customers that EQC is now working on to settle next. These claims are the most complex because:
- Each dwelling is insured separately.
- There is damage to the shared structural elements.
- There is a combination of under and over cap claims and so agreement is required between all owners and insurers.
- Some have pre-existing building issues (building design or construction features indicate an increased likelihood that other works may be required unrelated to the repair of the earthquake damage covered by EQC).
EQC’s settlement approach going forward for dependent MUB combos
- Each multi-unit building that has a mixture of undercap and overcap dwellings and repair dependencies has its own complexities. So how such a building will be settled will be discussed with all owners and private insurers and agreed on a case by case basis as not every option will work for every building.
- EQC is looking at three managed repair options for these MUBs:
- A private insurer led managed repair through the Insurance Council of New Zealand’s (ICNZ) Shared Property Project (SPP)
- A private insurer led managed repair outside SPP (as the building hasn’t been put into the SPP by the insurers)
- An EQC facilitated managed repair if neither private insurer nor customer want to or are capable of managing the repairs.
- A fourth option of cash settlement or customer managed repair is also available if all the owners and insurers in a MUB agree on this option. All parties have to be in an agreement because repairs to individual dwellings cannot be done in isolation and they have to consider how the damage to structural parts of the building will be repaired. For some of the MUB dependent combos with pre-existing building issues cash settlement might be the only option.
- EQC believes a private insurer-led managed repair will in most cases be the most effective option as one insurer or their project management office manages the repair of the whole building. It is also the insurer who already has a vested interest in the repair of the building as they are already responsible for the repair of dwellings with overcap damage (more than $115,000 including GST).
- Regardless of how the repair of a dependent MUB combo will end up being managed, EQC will work closely with the private insurer of the overcap dwelling(s) to confirm the repair dependency and agree on the scope of work, repair strategy and cost.
- EQC will also be available to deal with any variations in scope and/or cost that may arise during the repair.
- Considering that the best settlement approach for these MUBs will be decided together with the involved private insurers and customers on a case by case basis, it is not possible to determine the timeframe for when the repairs of these properties will be completed.
- We know that the timing will be dependent on the private insurers’ timeframes which vary from insurer to insurer. So it is likely that the majority of these MUBs will not be repaired in 2014.
Support for EQC customers
- EQC has special MUB claims managers working with private insurers and customers on the best settlement approach and repair strategy for individual properties. MUB claims managers will also work directly with private insurers or their project management office (PMO) if there are any variations in scope and/or costs during the repair.
- In addition, vulnerable customers will continue to have case management support throughout the repair as required. In the meantime, we have checked that properties of vulnerable customers are safe, sanitary and secure while they’re waiting for the repairs.
- EQC is also exploring how some other customer support groups, such as the Residential Advisory Service (RAS) and Earthquake Support Coordinators (ESC), could support our customers once we start discussing settlement approaches with them. We want to ensure they fully understand what it means for them and what their obligations are if they are an owner of a cross lease property.
EQC facilitated managed repair Pilot
- EQC has been piloting an EQC facilitated managed repair where we contracted an insurer’s PMO to repair our customers’ dwellings at the same time as they are repairing the overcap dwellings. We have learnt that while such a managed repair is achievable, different factors that we need to take into account as a government entity have made this already complex pilot even more complex and difficult.
- We believe that a more efficient and faster outcome for customers and all other parties can be achieved if EQC works closely with the lead insurer to confirm the repair approach and costs involved, and we then get our customer’s agreement for them to contract the lead insurer or their PMO to repair their property.
Buying a property with an existing EQC claim
EQC has got some sound advice for people looking at buying a property with an existing EQC claim. If you’re on the hunt, or know someone who is, this is important information to be aware of. Please share it!
What to know if you’re looking to buy a property with an EQC claim
If a property with an EQC claim is being sold, and it has been agreed that any outstanding EQC claims be settled with the Purchaser, EQC needs to be advised of the change and supplied with relevant documentation.
The documentation that is most commonly used for transferring an EQC claim is a Deed of Assignment – but any legal document can be used as long as it is clear about what is being assigned.
It’s important that anyone looking to buy a house with an outstanding EQC claim is aware that there are separate claim numbers for each claim lodged with EQC. For example, there have been claims made for damage from the 4 September 2010, 22 February 2011, 13 June 2011, and 23 December 2011 events, there will be four separate claim numbers. Within these, there may be claims for building, contents and/or land damage.
This means that while the building damage may have been settled by EQC, there may still be an outstanding land claim to be settled. This is particularly the case for increased flooding vulnerability and increased liquefaction vulnerability damage, which is yet to be settled.
However just because a claim has been lodged does not necessarily mean the claim is valid or will be accepted by EQC. Because of this, EQC recommends you seek legal advice when purchasing a property that is subject to an EQC claim.
Once a person has had the claim/s assigned to them, EQC will generally be able to provide that person with information about the claim including details about property damage. However EQC is generally unable to discuss any claims that have not been assigned, unless this is also agreed in the legal documentation.
I’m about to purchase a property, but EQC isn’t able to tell me if there are any outstanding claims on it. Why is this?
EQC is only able to provide information to the person who lodged the claim – usually the current owner.
However, we understand that it is important for a potential buyer to know what claims for damage have been made and the status of these claims.
We recommend you talk to your real estate agent or lawyer and stipulate that it is a condition of the sale that you are provided with a full and accurate statement of all the EQC claims for the property, including settled and outstanding claims.
If you proceed with the purchase of the property, either the seller’s lawyer or your lawyer should draft a Deed of Assignment, transferring any relevant claim entitlement to you.
For more information about transferring EQC claims please visit EQC’s website: http://www.eqc.govt.nz/canterbury-earthquakes/claims-assessment/transferring-property-claim/************ get tags and categories ****************/ ?>
Insurance stats – June 2014
The CERA survey quarterly report is through and it is good to see there is greater detail about where people are sitting in the queue.
ICNZ is still holding firm to a finish date for most claims by the end of 2016. We are interested to hear where IAG sit within this time-frame as they have always expected to be finished by the end of 2015. With the complications thrown up around land settlements, retaining walls and multi-unit buildings surely they will have to review that target.
There is no doubt that people have waited for what seems an eternity to get homes fixed and many will have to wait longer still but the figures are tracking well and according to plan and by the next quarter we will have officially passed the 50% mark. Let’s hope we make make quick progress from there.
You can read the ICNZ media release here.
Let’s Find & Fix update
Working on a project as fluid and creative as Let’s Find & Fix has required a whole dollop of trust and generated some great agency collaboration and lots of smiles but like all good things there are a few cons. For us the main one has been predicting the amount of time things would take. We never really knew how many people needed help and so when this turned into hundreds we knew our targets were ambitious.
We started with three contractors and we now have six but it still means it will be a few weeks before we get to everybody. Our sincere apologies go out to those 100 households who are still waiting for their temporary repairs.
Over 900 householders have put their hand up for assessment by the project with over 400 fixes to date and it looks like we will get to about 500 houses temporarily repaired in total. A little shocking but absolutely fantastic to know that everyone involved – from the Red Cross volunteers right through to the contractors – has made a difference.
So what about the other 400? Well a lot just didn’t qualify as we were targeting critical conditions of weather tightness, sanitation and security rather than other minor repairs. Some had been settled already, some were just about to be fixed and a few were caught up in some tough legal situations.
The upside for those 400 is that we made contact with them which many appreciated. Some benefited from the chat or the support service information that was passed on while others have been given additional home heating support through Community Energy Action and their great team.
So what does the future hold for Let’s Find & Fix? Well the 0800 number is still open thanks to CERA and their team who will be answering the calls and there is a draft plan on the table to keep this going into next year in some form. Some of the insurers, thanks to the Insurance Council NZ, have also left CanCERN their unused financial contribution to be used to evaluate and improve the project.
Overall Let’s Find and Fix has really added value this winter. No one has turned up in the Campbell Live caravan talking about leaks and sewerage so that must mean success.
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The number of calls coming into RAS is higher than ever and more staff are being brought in to cope with demand.
- 5500 people have contacted RAS
- 1200 have met with an independent advisor
- 500 have been referred to other services
- 674 close cases (about 55%)
- 114 days – the average time to closure
- Vulnerability of property owners and increased anxiety and stresses
- Retaining walls and the assessment of their indemnity value
- Increased presence of work defects and workmanship presenting as an issue for residents
- Flood plains and related issues
- Shared Property issues. Managing the relationships across all the homeowners and insurers is in some cases becoming quite problematic.
- For RAS’s vulnerable users, health issues and age continue to be the predominant factors. (See the graph below.)
One of the interesting things CanCERN has noted from this report is the emerging trends. It is not just RAS that is reporting these issues as the big things coming through. Other earthquake support services are indicating similar areas of concern and insurers are noting the same issues. In the past, those of us working with residents would’ve noted emerging issues and got very little traction in terms of having them unpacked and addressed. The agencies either decided they had it under control or it wasn’t a big enough issue to spend too much time talking about.
The difference we see now is the way these emerging issues are being directly addressed. There are multi-agency working parties looking at how to solve some of the retaining wall issues and there is another working party planning ways to best support the very vulnerable in our communities. The council put together the Mayor’s Flood Taskforce, and you will note in another post this week that EQC and insurers are looking to work more collaboratively to deal with complex multi-unit buildings.
The challenge now is how to make these improved ways of working more visible to the residents so that we can grow a little more faith that the big issues have been heard and are being considered.
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Start planning for Neighbourhood Week
Neighbourhood Week is being held from Friday 24 October to Sunday 2 November, and the Christchurch City Council is encouraging as many communities as possible to participate, particularly those who have moved to new suburbs.
To help facilitate community-spirited events, the Council’s Community Boards are supporting those who want to run community events and activities with a small subsidy.
Applications for funding subsidies for Neighbourhood Week are now open and close at 5pm on Friday 29 August 2014. For more information or to complete an application form, visit a Council Service Centre, Library or see www.ccc.govt.nz/neighbourhoodweek.
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