Christchurch homeowner, 76, still struggling with unresolved insurance claims decade on from quake

Ten years on from Christchurch's deadly February 22 quake, some homeowners are still struggling with unresolved insurance claims.

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Geoff Cardwell is one of many whose home still has quake damage a decade on. Source: 1 NEWS

For Geoff Cardwell, it's been a long, long 10 years.

His home still has quake damage. What was once a place of refuge is now a place of stress.

"There are times I've had difficulty sleeping, and you need sleep," the 76-year-old told 1 NEWS.

"It's at least, probably more than 1000 times worse than the earthquakes, because it just drags on and on."

His dispute with his insurer centres around the foundations. Engineers employed by each side have reached different views on what the fix should be. 

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And at 76 years old, the ordeal's eaten away his golden years.

"On an average day, from 50 to 80 per cent of the time, the house is in my mind," Cardwell says.

"If I could get rid of this, as a problem area, I could then start to enjoy my retirement."

He's not the only one. The Canterbury quakes saw at least 650,000 claims, including property, contents and other kinds of insurance. 

Ten years later, 1753 remain open with EQC, 403 sit with the eight private insurers and 192 are with the Government-owned Southern Response.

That means that over 99 per cent of all claims have been settled. Many of those that remain active are because they were reopened late in the process, due to repair issues.

Source: 1 NEWS

Advocates say the toll on those who are still fighting is enormous.

"I don't think that anyone should have this degree and pressure, and lack of control over their own lives, last as long as they have," quake insurance advocate Ali Jones says.

Many have gone through multiple agencies. Cardwell's claim currently sits with Southern Response. 

Due to privacy constraints, they couldn't discuss particulars when contacted by 1 NEWS, but spoke about the general difficulties claims hit.

"Often our experts will tell us, the value of the claim is 'x', their experts will say the value of the claim is 'y', and often where most of the effort goes into resolving the claim, to bridge the gap between 'x' and 'y'," general manager Casey Hurren says.

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The agency even admits it's struggled with some.

"I genuinely believe, having been involved in a number of claims, there are circumstances where we didn't do so well," Hurren says.

As for Cardwell, he's on his way to an independent adjudicator, hoping desperately for a solution. 

"I thought oh, we'll just clean up the mess, and in a year or so we'll be back to normal," he says.

"Little did we know, little did we know."

He's searching for freedom at last from his broken home.

This is part of a 1 NEWS series marking a decade since the deadly Christchurch earthquake.