Courts allow insurer to pay $300m compensation directly to quake-affected homeowners

File photo
File photo
New court rulings have confirmed insurers Southern Response can now directly contact 3000 quake-affected Canterbury homeowners about $300 million compensation owed to them.

It comes two years after the insurance company was found to have engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct.

Legal action was launched against the government-owned insurance company, which was set up to settle quake claims in the wake of insurer AMI's 2011 failure, after more than 3000 homeowners whose properties were damaged in the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquake sequence felt short-changed in their quake insurance settlements.

Now, High Court judgements released yesterday mean that homeowners have until December 20, 2021 to opt-out of the Ross Class Action (RCA) and instead opt for direct payment from Southern Response.

In August 2019, Anthony Harper lawyer Peter Woods established in the High Court that Southern Response had misrepresented the earthquake insurance entitlements of Karl and Alison Dodds.

Southern Response's appeal to the Court of Appeal was later dismissed.

"Homeowners should now seek independent legal advice about their compensation claim, and guidance on how to apply to Southern Response for the balance due to them," Woods said.

"The 2019 judgment in favour of the Doddses opened the way to rectify 3000 other Southern Response claims."

People who cash-settled their Southern Response earthquake claims before October 1, 2014 on the same basis as the Dodds, are entitled to a further payment of approximately 20 percent of their original settlement plus interest. The average compensation payable is approximately $100,000 for each homeowner.

Anthony Harper is already handling more than 50 claims, and 20 claims have been settled recently with compensation ranging from $63,000 to $427,000.

Karl and Alison Dodds are ecstatic that their claim has led to this outcome for 3000 other homeowners, more than a decade after the earthquakes damaged their homes.

"We urge everyone to seek independent legal advice immediately. Unlike our case, this is now a very simple process," Karl Dodds said.

Anyone who thinks they are eligible for the Southern Response compensation can go online to Anthony Harper's dedicated website -  www.SouthernResponsePayment.co.nz - to submit their claim information and a request for legal advice.

Harper will also provide advice on the Ross Class Action opt-out, and how that relates to the Southern Response offer.

Anthony Harper is charging a fixed fee of $2500 plus GST for recovering this compensation and giving legal advice. Southern Response has confirmed it will reimburse the homeowner $2000 of this fee.

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