Government urged to pay out Christchurch earthquake claimants allegedly underpaid by insurer
The lawyer acting for a group of up to 3000 Christchurch earthquake claimants who have allegedly been underpaid by Southern Response insurance company, is calling on the Government to act quickly to ensure pay outs are made.
“Now is the time to sit down and confront the issue for what it is," lawyer Grant Cameron told John Campbell on TVNZ 1's Breakfast today.
Southern Response is the government-owned company responsible for settling claims by AMI policy holders for Canterbury earthquake damage which occurred before April 5, 2012.
In August, the company was found by the High Court to have "falsely represented" information, "edited" crucial documents and engaged in "misleading and deceptive conduct".
It resulted in Canterbury homeowners receiving much lower insurance payments than they were entitled to.
Southern Response is owned by the Government, and therefore by the taxpayer.
The company has only days to decide if it will appeal, meaning if it does, more taxpayer money will be wasted.
It is understood by 1 NEWS that the damning judgement against Southern Response may potentially cost taxpayers $300 million.
Mr Cameron says he does not believe the company should appeal.
“The situation is pretty plain,” he says. "We’ve had the Supreme Court say to the Crown, ‘you have an obligation to make these payments.’
"You’ve now had the High Court come out more recently saying ‘you have an obligation to make these payments – and you were misleading and deceptive in the way you went about this.’ "
He says it’s time the Government acts to ensure the pay outs are made.
"It does seem now, with the benefit of two court decisions, that Government or the Treasury are trying to step around those decisions and take things further forward," John Campbell put to Cameron.
“Now is the time to sit down and confront the issue for what it is," he said of the 3000 cases claimed to be underpaid.
"Shouldn't we just be confronting legal obligations that the court has declared us to have?"
Southern Response have until Friday to determine whether they will appeal the High Court decision.