Liquidation in third year

The liquidation of collapsed boutique Queenstown insurance company Western Pacific - dragging into its third year - has liquidators targeting larger claims to try to speed up the process.

Because of the lack of engineers and demand for their services in Canterbury, liquidators said the engineers did not have the capacity to assess multiple claims, while loss adjustors have been instructed to review the largest quake claims first.

''Loss adjusters are currently progressing some 60 claims with a total estimated value of approximately $37 million and will continue to work through the remaining claims,'' the liquidators said in their last report to creditors.

Liquidators' Grant Thornton was appointed to the job in April 2001, in the wake of Western's collapse after being unable to meet its obligations to pay out Christchurch earthquake claims, from September 2010 and February 2011.

The estimated total claims from the two quakes stands at $48.3 million, with reinsurers' payments expected to cover $33.9 million, plus $1.72 million in reinsurance premiums due.

Grant Thornton estimate a shortfall of $16.1 million for policy holders. Separately, unsecured creditors have lost about $27.6 million - a total shortfall of more than $43 million.

Western's operators were Queenstown-based Graham Smolenski and his Australian brother-in-law Jeff McNally. Western once held 7000 policies worldwide, amounting to $10 billion in insurance cover, but collapsed owing $6 million.

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