Canterbury homeowners reapply for class action against insurer Southern Response




A group of 40 Canterbury homeowners with properties damaged by the Christchurch earthquakes are reapplying for an order to resolve their Southern Response insurance claims as a class action in court today.

Quake claimants protest against insurance company
Dozens of disgruntled quake claimants took over the grounds of Southern Response Insurance.
Source: 1 NEWS

The group, being represented by lawyer Grant Cameron, first applied to the Christchurch High Court in December last year and had the application rejected by Justice Mander on February 24. 

Group pursuing class action lawsuit against Southern Response back in court
Customers arrived at court today seeking an order to allow their action to proceed.
Customers arrived at court today seeking an order to allow their action to proceed.
Source: 1 NEWS

Justice Mander suggested the application needed more evidence of a common factor between the claimants for the order to proceed jointly.

Southern Response is the government-owned agency set up in 2012 to manage the insurance claims of AMI policy holders following the earthquakes.

When the first application was rejected, Justice Mander said the claimants could apply again if they revised their application to address the "deficiencies and concerns" in the original application.

Since then, several homeowners have stepped down from the class action application.

The revised application alleges Southern Response has failed in its responsibility to correctly reinstate policy holders, and used a "cost-cutting" strategy designed to "systematically reduce the cost of meeting the claims arising out of the Canterbury earthquakes below its true liability," a Southern Response Class Action representative said in the Christchurch High Court today.

This allegedly involved "undertaking sub-standard repair work" and "understating the extent of the work required, and the cost of undertaking that work" among other claims.

A spokesperson for Southern Response said the revised claim that Southern Response used this strategy is "absolute fiction and an extravagant claim to make."

The second application does not deal with the 'deficiencies and concerns' Justice Mander stated were present in the first application and is "in substance the same as their original claim," she said.

The Southern Response Class Action group said on their website that they have "strong expectations" the order will be granted and the case has "very significant implications" for unsettled policy-holders and for the New Zealand government.

About 1700 policy-holders are yet to have their claims resolved, a Southern Response spokesperson said.

The court application hearing is expected to continue for most of the day in the Christchurch High Court.

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