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Suncorp New Zealand settles 99.3% of claims in Kaikoura

14 November 2018

Jimmy Higgins

By Jimmy Higgins
Executive General Manager, Claims

It’s been two years today since the 7.8 magnitude Kaikoura earthquake struck New Zealand, causing significant damage to the upper South Island and Wellington regions.

Since that date, Vero and AA Insurance received over 12,300 claims from our customers whose homes, farms or businesses suffered damage.

We’ve now settled just over 99% of the residential claims we received, and we have paid out over $320m to our residential and commercial customers.

On 30 September we closed our official Kaikoura Earthquake Recovery Programme and transferred the handful of remaining claims over to our earthquake team.

Handling claims in Kaikoura was significantly simplified (for both us and our customers) by an agreement between private insurers and EQC that allowed us to act on EQC’s behalf to manage all residential claims.

Under the agreement, we acted as EQC’s agents to settled claims, regardless of whether or not they were over or under the EQC cap. 

This approach was a change that Vero advocated for based on learnings from the Canterbury Earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, and Vero was also involved in piloting a trial of the process after the Valentine’s Day earthquake in 2016.

Although there are still things for us to learn from this process, we believe that the streamlined approach has helped to speed up the claims process and provide more certainty and simplicity for our customers. 

Responding to a disaster of this magnitude is a team effort, and our Kaikoura earthquake programme wouldn’t be where it is today without the work of a huge number of people at Vero. 

Some were involved immediately and on the ground in Kaikoura in the days following the earthquake, while many others have worked closely with our customers over the past two years to settle their claims.

Being there for our customers means more to Vero that simply settling claims. We partnered with My Food Bag to bring 16,000 hot meals to local residents. We also assisted to establish a local radio station in our temporary Kaikoura office, to provide information to residents following the disaster.

But we couldn’t do these things alone, and I’d like to acknowledge the effort and collaboration of the groups we worked with, including local and national authorities, our business partners, brokers, and local community groups and of course with our customers, to be there for them in the moments that matter.


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