Earthquake house damage and botched EQC repairs Have you been impacted by Christchurch earthquake house damage? Shine Lawyers can help.
The Christchurch earthquakes caused unprecedented damage and disruption. Years later, many people have unresolved private insurance or Earthquake Commission (EQC) claims.
Our expert insurance lawyers have successfully assisted thousands of Cantabrians and others with their earthquake house damage claims, including those insured with Southern Response. If you’ve been impacted by the Christchurch earthquakes, our earthquake damage claims team can help you to get what you’re entitled to under your insurance policy or from an EQC claim.
Earthquake house damage and botched EQC repairs
Unresolved earthquake house damage claims mainly fall into one of four categories:
- The EQC has paid out its full financial obligation, but you as the insured homeowner may have a disputed claim over the repair scope (for repairs or replacement of an earthquake damaged house);
- The EQC has indicated that your house can be repaired for less than the $100,000 cap;
- Either the EQC or a private insurance company have signed off on repairs, but the repairs are either substandard or do not meet the policy standard. In many cases like this, either the EQC or private insurer has attempted to repair to a lesser standard than the “as new” requirements under relevant laws; or
- Your earthquake damaged home has had botched EQC repairs, repairs have been missed, or the home has been inadequately repaired by the EQC and on-sold.
These outstanding private insurers and EQC Christchurch claims have led to significant litigation in court. Many people with earthquake house damage or failed EQC repairs have found that the only way to force insurers to meet their policy obligations is to issue court proceedings.
Building standards must be met
Most insurance policies require the insurance company to repair a damaged house to an ‘as new’ or replacement condition, according to current building standards.
Under New Zealand law, the EQC is required to repair or replace an earthquake damaged house to its ‘when new’ condition, subject to current building regulations.
Resolution of botched EQC repair claims or earthquake house damage claims against private insurers
In New Zealand, there are a few alternatives to resolving earthquake house damage claims.
High Court earthquake list
In 2011 the High Court created an earthquake list to manage cases related to earthquake house damage. Cases on the earthquake list are managed through to their settlement or trial. Urgent cases are prioritised, as are cases that raise issues that might be common to other cases (and so could form a precedent).
Our experience is that homeowners with under cap earthquake house damage should file proceedings in the High Court, once they have an independent engineer’s report* (and if the EQC doesn’t agree to place the house over cap). This is because:
- The EQC investigates and pays out up to its cap and then transfers over cap claims to homeowners’ private insurers
- The EQC claims process to investigate and then transfer can be lengthy
- By filing your private insurer or EQC Christmas claim in the High Court, it does not mean that your case will go all the way to trial in court. The High Court will set a timetable and manage the progress of your claim
At Shine Lawyers NZ, we have a reputation for progressing EQC claims cases efficiently and cost effectively through to resolution, usually without the need for a court hearing.
*We suggest getting an independent engineer’s report if your house is over cap too, so you’re sure that the insurance company is providing a proper repair solution for repairs to your earthquake damaged home.
New Zealand Claims Resolution Service
In 2023 the New Zealand government established the Claims Resolution Service (NZCRS). The NZCRS replaced the former Greater Christchurch Claims Resolution Service and Residential Advisory Service.
The NZCRS provides:
- Homeowners with independent advice and support to resolve residential insurance disputes following a natural disaster (such as an earthquake or flood) and
- Dispute resolution options (such as independent mediation) for unresolved claims between homeowners and private insurers or the EQC.
Canterbury Earthquakes Insurance Tribunal
The New Zealand government established the specialist Canterbury Earthquakes Insurance Tribunal (CEIT) in 2019. The CEIT is another dispute resolution alternative to the High Court, for homeowners to resolve their EQC claims or claims against private insurers.
Our expert earthquake damage claims team can talk you through the different options for resolution of your private insurance or EQC claim. There are advantages and disadvantages for each alternative, depending on the particular circumstances of your earthquake house damage claim. We’ll discuss all potential options for resolving claims and disputes with you so you can make informed decisions about your best course of action.
What should you do if your earthquake damaged home has botched EQC repairs?
Under New Zealand law you are entitled to have your earthquake house damage repaired to a ‘when new’ standard in line with current building regulations. Botched EQC repairs (or defective repairs signed off by a private insurer) may be hidden, in a home which looks cosmetically sound. They are likely to seriously affect your home’s integrity and value.
If your home was impacted by the Christchurch earthquakes, contact our team at Shine Lawyers NZ. We have acted for many property owners to resolve their outstanding private insurance and EQC claims and ensure the safe and timely repair of their home.
Are there any time limitations?
It’s important to seek legal advice as soon as possible for any earthquake house damage. Each claim is specific to its own circumstances, and there are different strict time limits that apply for making an EQC claim or claim against a private insurer. As one example, High Court proceedings must be filed within six years from the earthquake or from when repairs were carried out. At Shine Lawyers NZ we are also now representing clients with claims for botched EQC repairs due to the time restrictions on filing proceedings.
What is the legal process for Earthquake claims?
Shine Lawyers work closely with our clients to explain the legal process and help you to clearly understand your rights. While no two claims are the same, a general outline of the legal process is provided below.
Shine Lawyers New Zealand’s earthquake damage claims team can help you
At Shine Lawyers NZ, we have experienced solicitors specialising in earthquake house damage claims. We know how insurers operate, and have the expertise and knowledge to take them on, as well as the EQC. We are passionate about earthquake house damage and botchedEQC repairs. Contact Shine Lawyers NZ today for an obligation-free consultation so we can help you ￼with your claim. Our expert team includes:
Initial legal consultation
Build your case and run your case
Why choose Shine Lawyers?
We are here to help you right wrong.
Who is Shine Lawyers New Zealand's Earthquake Damage Claims team?
Shine Lawyers’ Earthquake Damage Claims Team includes some of the firm’s most experienced solicitors and support staff. The team includes: