In the recent High Court decision in Body Corporate 398983 v Zurich Australian Insurance Ltd & anor [2013] NZHC 1109 the Court had to interpret the applicable insurance policy as to whether the sum insured in the insurance policy of $12.95M included the amount due from EQC of $6.8M.  It was relevant because the total loss was about $25M plus GST.  The body corporate said that it was entitled to $19.75M total ($12.95M (Zurich) plus $6.8M (EQC)).  The insurer said the liability was $12.95M ($6.8M (EQC) plus $6.15M (Zurich)).  The relevant insurance policy clause provided “the insurers liability will be limited to the amount of loss in excess of the EQC cover”.  Because the loss exceeding the EQC cover was more than $12.95M ($25M-$6.8M) the body corporate was entitled to the sum insured of $12.95M plus the $6.8M from EQC.

I have found the quickest way for an insured homeowner to obtain a complete copy of their EQC file is to have the High Court make an order at the 1st conference in an insurance proceeding in the earthquake list that EQC provide the file.  The complete file is then provided within 14 days.

It is expected that the High Court at Christchurch will shortly hear a test case about whether a notice under s124 of the Building Act 2004 and/or “red-zoning” for rockfall/rockroll/cliff collapse risk results in the property being a “total loss” for insurance purposes.  In two court proceedings the insurance company, Vero Insurance,  denies that the house is a total loss under the insurance policy and wishes to settle the insurance claim under the insurance policy on a theoretical repair cost.

I am involved in a case currently where a defence by Tower Insurance to the claim was that a main structural wall was a “retaining wall” so its liabiliity was limited to $10,000 under the insurance policy.  After maintaining this defence for 7 months it abandoned it about 6 weeks before  trial.

I recently finished a trial in the High Court at Christchurch against Southern Response Earthquake Services Ltd where the Court is to decide the liability of Southern Response for a contingency (10%),  margin (10%) and professional fees (10%) in the calculation of the hypothetical costs to rebuild a house  were  the property is damaged beyond economic repair and the insured has elected to buy another house under the relevant insurance policy.  Hopefully the decision of Justice MacKenzie will be favourable to the insured.

The High Court judgment in Ridgecrest v IAG New Zealand ltd is the subject of a hearing in the Court of Appeal on 30 May 2013.  It is the judgment about the ability of an insured to bring multiple claims under the insurance policy  for damage to the property from multiple events during the insurance policy period.

Grant Shand was featured in The Herald On Sunday


Grant Shand in The New Zealand Hearald

Grant was described as the “carboot lawyer” who wings in and out of Christchurch with a huge caseload on behalf of desperate quake-struck homeowners.

An Auckland leaky-home specialist Grant carries the hopes of more than 100 people who are fighting EQC and insurance companies.

Grant currently has more earthquake clients than any other lawyer in Christchurch. Of the 86 cases on the High Court list there last week, his name was bracketed with 38.

Read the full article here