Southern Response Announces Construction Deadline for Final Stages
Government-owned company Southern Response is committed to getting its remaining customers settled as quickly as possible, announcing a final deadline for entering its construction programme at its annual public meeting in Christchurch today.
Southern Response, responsible for settling claims by AMI policyholders for damage which occurred from the Canterbury earthquakes before 5 April 2012, has settled just under 80 percent of nearly 8,000 over-cap house claims and 98 percent of its 21,706 out-of-scope claims.
Chief Executive Peter Jensen, leading his first annual meeting since joining the organisation in July, said the majority of settlement options chosen by customers over the past 12 months had been cash settlements. “What we are seeing is customers wanting to explore more flexible options and having much greater confidence in self-managing their next steps as they think about their future needs,” he said.
Along with the increase in those choosing to cash settle, demand for Southern Response-managed construction has dropped, with many customers switching to alternative options such as buying another house or managing their own construction requirements. Currently, 75 percent of settlements are cash, by customer choice.
“There is a growing need to align our resources with the increasing customer demand for cash settlements. Customers and staff also want clearer timeframes around individual settlements and the organisation’s wind-down. In response to these needs, we are setting a deadline of 30 June 2017 for customers to enter our building programme with signed build contracts.”
Jensen said Southern Response was working closely with existing customers, as well as with EQC to ensure a smooth transition for newly notified over-cap claims.
“We will continue to support the management of repair and rebuild projects for those customers we recognise as being very vulnerable post the 30 June 2017 deadline, Jensen said.”
Southern Response and Arrow are committed to managing the remaining construction work. An appropriately-sized project management setup will be maintained after 30 June 2017, to ensure the timely and quality completion of repairs and rebuilds with signed build contracts.
“Customers who still wish to build after the 30 June 2017 deadline will be supported with relevant information and introductions to builders if required,” said Jensen. In October 2015 at last year’s annual public meeting, Southern Response announced its target of mid-2017 to settle 90 percent of its current over-cap claims at that time. Southern Response remains committed to meeting that target, while acknowledging that some of the more complex, litigated or recently over-cap claims may take longer to settle.
As of August 2016, Southern Response has completed 1,924 rebuilds and repairs, with a further 863 currently under construction or at design and documentation stage. It received 370 new claims and settled 1,414 claims in the last year.
Southern Response is confident it has the resources required to settle all remaining claims and fulfil its commitments to customers. “We were set up to settle customers’ claims and as we enter our final stages we remain firmly focussed on working closely with our remaining customers to do this fairly and as quickly as possible,” said Jensen.