IAG applies statute of limitations
01 Sep 2017
New Zealand’s biggest insurer, IAG, has applied a statute of limitations defence against future insurance claims on housing damaged by the Christchurch earthquake.
The ruling imposes a limit to the amount of time that residents have to take court action against an insurer, according to a report from RNZ.
Lisa Taylor, a lawyer with the firm Anthony Harper, told RNZ she was informed by the insurance giant that in the case of those who had purchased earthquake-damaged homes since the earthquakes and had claims assigned to them, their time would be up today.
“We think it is outrageous, people have seen these statements which have been widely publicised for a number of years. And for IAG to now come out and say this is what it is going to do, is going to frankly put a lot of stress and anxiety on homeowners, who are in this position and who have little or no time to now file proceedings in the high court,” Taylor said.
The statute of limitations provides a six-year cut-off for court action to be taken. However, homeowners have a new deadline – today.
Taylor said there was a good chance the new deadline might never have been revealed at all if her law firm had not pushed IAG to make clear its stance.
Mel Bourke, an advocate for those with outstanding insurance claims, told RNZ that applying the statute of limitations rule and preventing homeowners from taking insurers to court tipped the scales dramatically in favour of companies such as IAG.
Bourke said there could be as many as 11,500 homes where EQC had underestimated damage. That could take months or years to definitively establish, and would leave claimants out in the cold with no ability to challenge their insurer in court.
In a statement, IAG said it never promised to extend the deadline for those with claims assigned to them and that this was only ever done for the original owners of the quake-damaged properties, RNZ said.