Ex-TV star plans insurance company court battle

Former children's TV star Ollie Ohlson is launching a High Court legal battle after being left disgruntled that his earthquake-ravaged Canterbury home was deemed a 'repair' by his insurance company.

The former After School frontman is being forced out of his Brooklands home, 15km north of Christchurch on the banks of a lagoon at the Waimakariri rivermouth, after the entire suburb was red-zoned.

Many Brooklands residents are disgusted by insurance firm decisions to pay out for the cost of repairs, rather than like-for-like replacements on new sites.

Mr Ohlson says insurance companies are being allowed to get away with the "morally corrupt" practice, and has vowed to take them and the Government to the High Court to reverse the decisions.

"People have been lied to, deceived and badly treated by those in power, including the Government, the insurers, city council, and Cera (Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority)," he said.

"I'm worried it will continue unless we do something about it. They must not be allowed to get away with it."

The minimum legal costs will be $30,500, Mr Ohlson says, but he fears they could double.

So, he has now launched a unique 'Project Red Zone' fundraiser on the PledgeMe website to try to cover the bill for him, and others, to go to court.

To encourage donations, he has vowed to personally respond to every big-hearted backer in an unusual way.

For a pledge of $5-plus, he will send the donor a hand-signed letter.

For a donation of more than $30, he will send out a personally signed picture postcard of himself, and for $100-plus, he will go on video-sharing website YouTube and thank them personally while holding a photograph of them.

For any generous backer who wants to pledge $1000, the entertainer says he will write them a song and "personally sing it on You Tube with your picture in shot too."

Mr Ohlson, a pensioner, says he's aware of the financial risks in taking any legal action against the insurers, but he says "that risk is worthwhile taking".

"They're being allowed to get away with it. Now that's absolutely wrong," he said.

"There's a risk to that, because I've been a superannuitant for over three years, I can't afford to take things to the High Court. But that's what we're willing to do."

A victory in the High Court would set a legal precedent, he said, adding that the situation affected everyone in New Zealand because "earthquakes are not going to go away".

 

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