Chch insurance test case drawing to close

Posted 13 Mar 2013 by Media3News Popular

The first of at least 16 cases brought by disgruntled Christchurch homeowners against Tower Insurance is drawing to a close.

 


The first of at least 16 cases brought by disgruntled Christchurch homeowners against Tower Insurance is drawing to a close in the Christchurch High Court.

A red-zoned couple took Tower Insurance to court in a house rebuild or repair argument that could become a test case.

Retired couple Matt and Valerie O'Loughlin have turned up to court every day for the past week – their two-year battle against Tower Insurance nearing an end.

"Today I think was the worst," says Ms O'Loughlin. "We've got three men who are going to decide on our future."

Those three men are the judge and lawyers acting for each side.

The couple took their insurance company to court over the payout offered on their quake-damaged home in Dallington. Tower offered to repair the house, but the O'Louglins want a full rebuild on another site.

"The O'Loughlins want to be paid for their whole loss and damage, as it relates to the damage that the earthquake cost," says public insurance adjuster Andy Fusco.But Tower Insurance argues the house is not badly damaged and can be repaired.

"It's the submissions for Tower that the O'Loughlins have not proved that Tower's wrong to conclude that their house could be repaired," says Tower insurance lawyer Alan Galbraith.

The Government declared the house is in the red zone and will eventually be demolished, but Tower says that's not its fault and the insurance policy doesn't cover any loss from that.

"It doesn't cover economic loss, it only covers physical loss or damage," says Mr Galbraith.

The outcome of the test case could set a precedent for hundreds of other red-zoned homeowners.

"This should set the standard for this case and others, both in the residential and commercial community, " says Mr Fusco.

A decision in the case is expected to be reserved, but Tower faces more legal action from several other unhappy Christchurch homeowners.

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