Fair Go: QV apologises to homeowner for under-valuing house by over $100k

The property valuation company QV has apologised to a homeowner on the West Coast for the time it took to give the right advice, after it undervalued her home by $112,000 for insurance purposes.

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Accurate insurance cover is critical, but what do you do if the people you hire to make an accurate property valuation aren’t sure? Source: Fair Go

“This was not acceptable, and we are working with the team involved to ensure this does not happen again,” Mel Davis, chief operating officer at QV, said in a statement to Fair Go.

Rosemary Nolan had hired QV Hokitika to provide an insurance valuation for the new house. She’d built on the West Coast with the settlement money from her quake-destroyed home in Christchurch, to put that unhappy chapter of her life behind her.

“I don’t think you'd ever forget the experience. No, something I'll carry with me forever,” Mrs Nolan said.

QV took two months, three revisions and some prompting from Fair Go to hand over the document and replace the previous low valuation. Mrs Nolan was anxious the whole time.

“Totally dangerous to even have that piece of paper there,”

The experiences of battling for a fair settlement in Christchurch made Mrs Nolan keenly aware of the need to be able to accurately prove the replacement value of her home if she suffered a catastrophic loss.

“I've got it well insured, but if (a loss adjuster) went around and said, well what was it worth, and if they went to that stupid QV, what the devil. The numbers aren't right.”

Since the Christchurch earthquakes in 2011, most insurance for houses that covers natural disaster must be capped at a number the homeowner provides - the sum insured.

Guess high and you over-insure; you’re wasting your money as the insurer won’t pay more than it costs to fix.

Guess too low and you are under-insured; exposed to huge costs the insurer won’t cover.

The Insurance Council of New Zealand has this handy explainer. 

It suggests hiring a quantity surveyor for best results, but a valuer ought to be able to do the job.

QV says it completed 11,000 property valuation reports in the past year and provides services to 90 per cent of councils for rating valuations.

Some insurers also offer customers an online tool that they can use themselves to find a value.

Every homeowner needs to work out which approach is best for them.

The more expensive the home or the trickier the build – on a steep slope or with a lot of extras for example - the wiser it is to spend some money on good advice.