EARTHQUAKE SERVICES:


WE ARE ON YOUR SIDE

Since the earthquakes in Christchurch, Earthquake Services Ltd has grown to be New Zealand's largest privately-owned insurance advocacy and litigation funding service.
We are not run or controlled by insurance companies and we don't back away from fighting for your full entitlement. We have helped hundreds of Cantabrians settle their earthquake claims, at levels far above their insurer's initial offer. Our 'no win, no fee' approach means NO cost to you unless we resolve your claim. What's more, we fund the entire process; you pay nothing out of your pocket until your claim is settled.
Even though EQC and all major Insurance companies have now announced they will not rely on the Limitation Act as a defence until 4 Sept 2017, unless they have given this to you in writing about your specific claim we do not recommend relying on this general announcement. We urge all homeowners not to delay getting your claim filed in Court to protect your rights. A claim lodged with your insurer is not enough; you need to have legal proceedings underway to secure your claim.
Through our ligigation funding company Claims Resolution Services (2015) Limited we offer a "No Win No pay" service. We fund the entire process and assume all risk of losing against your Insurance company or EQC.

Three steps to secure your full entitlement before the window of opportunity closes:


1. Come in and meet with our consultants to discuss our service. Once you have signed with us we will organise for a full damage assessment of your home. If after this initial inspection we find little or no damage and/or little prospect of a successful claim we will advise you of same and cancel your contract. You will have nothing to pay and at least have peace of mind.

2. If however after your damage assessment we confirm you have a claim worth pursuing, we will follow up with an engineering report to establish the repair strategy in line with your insurance policy.

3. Once we have the required reports, we will write to EQC and your Insurer on your behalf to see if they agree with the assessment. If they refuse to respond or disagree with your independent assessment, we will then take the steps necessary to have your claim filed in court. The reason we do this is (1) to protect your rights against the Limitation Act and (2) to ensure a structured time frame is set down which all parties have to adhere to this means eqc or the insurer can no longer ignore you and keep playing the delaying game with you. Less than 1% of our claims have ever gone to trial with the vast majority settled well before. We stand between you and EQC or your insurer and do the lifting for you.

We know how stressful the last 5 years has been. Come and talk to our friendly, helpful team and let us fight for you:


Bryan Staples CEO Earthquake Services

Bryan Staples, CEO and Founder, Earthquake Services
News Updates

Claims Resolution Service (2015) Limited

Through our company Claims Resolution Service (2015) Ltd we are one of the New Zealand's largest litigation funding services. Not only do we fund earthquake litigation, we provide funding assistance for any worthwhile case. Bryan Staples say's, "Justice should be available to all, not just those with very deep pockets". Through our exposure to fighting for the underdog over last 5 years on earthquake insurance claims, we have seen far too many other cases not pursued simply because the victim has no funds to put their case in front of the courts. Please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your specific needs.

We will look at all types of commercial litigation, intellectual property infringements, relationship property and general Insurance matters. If we agree to take on your case as the funder, we will assume a percentage of the risk on your behalf. How much that percentage will be will depend on our assessment of the risk involved.

Time is running out

Countdown clock to 4th September 2016

Even though EQC and all major Insurance companies have now announced they will not rely on the Limitations Act as a defence until 4 Sept 2017 unless they have given this to you in writing about your specific claim we do not recommend relying on this general announcement.The clock is ticking on your capacity to lodge claims in court, so the time to act is now. It is over 5 years since the 4th September 2010 earthquake. Unsettled insurance claims exceed 6000. Who knows how many EQC building claims remain unsettled? EQC admits at least 5700 of its repairs need redoing.
Some experts say as many as 20,000 Fletcher EQR repairs could go over cap, if assessed properly.
The number of unsettled land claims is also unknown. Many thousands of sections have suffered increased flood and liquefaction vulnerability, retaining wall displacement, lateral spread and vertical settlement.
The 6-year limitation period to sue will come into play this year for the 4th September 2010 earthquake. The Insurance Council and EQC have made statements about their interpretation of the law. It would be dangerous to rely on these statements and postpone suing. The Limitation Act provides EQC and insurers with a defence against having to pay out your claim. It can take months to get claims ready to file in court, so don't delay. And don't think for a second if the threat of legal action is removed, that EQC and insurance companies will suddenly deal with your claim fairly. Have they done so to date? No. It is critical you act now to preserve your rights. If you do not file your claim in court by 3 September 2016 you may lose your ability to compel the insurer to pay your full entitlement under your policy.
Call us for a free inspection of your property and let's talk about how we can assist you.

Claims

Land Claims

Not just Canterbury homes were damaged by the earthquakes, but your land as well. Almost every section has either dropped, risen or moved sideways; many have increased flood and liquefaction vulnerability. Thanks to EQC, New Zealand is the only country in the world where you can insure land. Every house that had insurance at the time of the quakes also had EQC insurance on its land; yet very few homeowners have been paid for that damage and none we know of have been paid their full entitlement. Few people understand what they are entitled to with a land damage claim; even fewer understand how to assess the damage and cost the remediation. No other advocacy service that we know of is taking on these land claims. These are difficult claims to manage and less rewarding than housing or commercial claims. But if we can help you as a home-owner to get your full entitlement, we want to assist.
Do not delay in contacting us about your land claim especially if you have been classified as having increased flood or liquefaction vulnerability. The clock is ticking on these just as with building claims. The Limitations Act will start affecting land claims, so get your claim filed now. After 3 September 2016 you may lose your legal rights.

Multi Unit Dwellings (MUD) Claims

If your unit or apartment has suffered earthquake-damaged and shares a wall(s) with another dwelling, chances are it will have been put into the ‘too hard’ basket by EQC or your insurer. Many people have been forced into arrangements with insurers where one insurer takes the lead and repairs the complex, often to a standard well below what your policy entitled you. If you are not happy with this arrangement or you are not happy with the standard of repairs being suggested or that have been done, you do not have to accept it. Your policy is with your insurer; just because you share common walls you do not have to work as a group. Make sure all your rights and entitlements are being protected. We can deal with your unit as if it were a stand-alone building. Do not accept less than what you are entitled. Call us now before it's too late. The Limitation Act affects you the same as it does everyone; 3rd Sept 2016 is the finish line for the September 2010 event.

Home Claims

If you are still struggling to get a fair settlement offer from EQC or your insurer, or are worried about the quality of repairs done to your home by Fletcher EQR, EQC or an insurer, contact us. Even if you have accepted a cash offer by EQC but believe it is insufficient – talk to us now; you still have time to put things right.

EQC has admitted there are thousands of homes repaired under its Fletcher EQR program where repairs are well below an acceptable standard. It is trying to blame the builders for the sub-standard work, but the core of the problem is the dodgy assessments and lower repair strategies undertaken by EQC and Fletcher EQR over the last 5 years. We have all heard the numerous excuses they reel out to trusting home owners; "Oh, that crack was there before the quakes,” or, “That wall lean is within the MBIE guidelines and we do not have to straighten it,” or “That hump in the floor is due to poor workmanship”. If the damage is not assessed properly and the repair strategies are inadequate, then no matter how good the builder, those repairs will fail if they have not already. Don't blame the builders, blame EQC and Fletcher EQR. In our opinion “Jack n Pack” is not a permanent fix to earthquake-damaged piles; epoxy glue is no solution to shattered slabs or ring foundations and a bucket of paint will not fix structural damage.

The responsibility for dodgy assessments and poor repair strategies lies with EQC and Fletchers EQR – phone us now for a no obligation and cost free inspection.

  • If you have been "Fletchered" by EQC
  • If you are still waiting on EQC to put your claim over cap
  • If you are still wrestling with your insurer
  • If you have received an insufficient payout from EQC.

CALL US NOW before you run out of time. Ph 03-3778855, Don't be beaten by the Limitations Act.

Process

  • Homeowners

    Earthquake Services assists homeowners in every step of the arduous path to getting their claim settled fairly. We engage the right experts to properly assess your earthquake damage, engineers to develop the appropriate repair strategy, Quantity Surveyors to cost your repair and or rebuild, and the right legal representatives to mediate or litigate your claim to ensure your settlement is fair and reasonable.

    Your steps

    1.Get our obligation and cost free initial damage assessment.
    2.If you then want us to manage your claim, come and see us and talk to one of our Claims Advocates.
    3.Sign our contract and then let us take the weight off your shoulders.

  • Assessment

    Our free initial damage assessment is just the start of the process to gather enough information to prove your claim. Full assessment can involve a number of experts and technologies such as licenced building practitioners, engineers, quantity surveyors, Cadestral surveyors, geologists, geotechnical engineers, metal detectors, laser levels and Ground Penetrating Radar.

  • Engineering

    Engineers will be involved throughout the entire process and are integral in obtaining and proving the evidence required in post-quake Christchurch. The engineers will provide initial engineering reports, they will then together with engineers from the insurer and or EQC provide a joint report to provide clarity to the Courts. Then they will likely be involved in any mediation or litigation process. The experts we engage understand the difference between policy entitlement and the sometimes lower standard of the MBIE guidance document, which insurers and EQC may try to use to argue is enough to meet your policy entitlement.

  • Costing

    Expert quantity surveyors (QS) are used to provide detailed costings to ensure risk is removed from you and rightfully passed to the insurer. A QS is a professional concerned with estimating building costs in the construction industry. The QS might also advises on the potential issues of a site such as access. The QS will present detailed information on the cost of particular elements of work, materials and labour.

  • Mediation/Litigation

    We find some insurers are usually good to deal with. When we are engaged on your behalf if we can present all the necessary evidence of damage and costings. We are happy to tell you if your insurer is one of the better ones - or one of those that will make us fight them on your behalf every step of the way. We engage some of the best insurance litigators in the country to assist with the resolution of your claim. Our external lawyers are Jai Moss and Grant Shand.
    Jai Moss is a barrister who specialises in insurance claims work for homeowners and commercial clients. Jai has a number of barristers working with him, he is instructed by well-known and well respected Christchurch lawyer Mr. Bill Dwyer.
    Grant Shand is a lawyer and barrister in his own law firm and he also specialises in insurance claims for homeowners. Grant currently has by far the lion’s share of claims filed in the High Court. If you agree with our recommendation to engage one of these lawyers, Jai or Grant and their teams will work for and take instruction from you and you will not have to pay their account until settlement. You also enjoy the rates we have negotiated on their time and fees. We also have access to other insurance law specialists such as Queens Counsel as the need arises.


FAQS

These Q&As are general in nature and the opinion of the writer and not intended to be legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.


1.What can Earthquake Services do for me?


Though our litigation funding company Claims Resolution Services (2015) Ltd we offer a full service earthquake claim litigation funding and resolution solution. Unfortunately, in Christchurch because the Government is also a major insurer there is no incentive for the Government to advocate for homeowners against their insurers. In our view, the Government has actively set about assisting insurers to skirt around the contractual agreements which is your insurance policy. The Government created the MBIE guidelines, which now has become the default standard that insurers will use to try to settle your claim. The MBIE guidelines standard is a lower standard than that set in the Building Act and the Building Code. The Government created the Red Zones which offered homeowners the value of their property as it stood in 2007, ignoring the fact that almost all these homeowners were insured for full replacement, no matter the cost. Thousands of Red Zoned home owners were ignorant of their true entitlement and accepted from the Government what was essentially indemnity value when they should have been paid full replacement. We fight EQC and your insurer for your full entitlement; we pay for all costs on the way through, so you pay us nothing until the resolution of your claim. We take the risk on a no win, no fee basis. We organise all the independent experts to assist with proving your claim. We have negotiated exclusive arrangements with all the experts and legal representatives to ensure costs are kept to a minimum.


2.How much are the costs to run my claim?


This is one of the most asked questions we get from clients when they are getting close to settlement. Unfortunately, there is no way we can pre-determine costs. The smart insurers tend to settle claims quickly with us so as to avoid running up enormous costs which they have to pay. Others will fight till the bitter end, allowing costs to escalate to eye watering numbers, even though at the end they have to pay most of your costs as well as their own. The claims that usually drag on are the ones where the insurer or EQC has engaged lawyers, rather than allowing their claims manager to settle the claim. As we all know lawyers get paid by the minute, so there is no incentive for insurance lawyers to settle claims quickly unless they are in house. The good news is, once you have signed our current contract, you do not have to pay us any money until the resolution of your claim. We fund the entire process from start to finish no matter how long it takes. Our fee is 20% of the settlement figure is not recoverable from your insurer or EQC. However almost all other costs are recoverable. So things like legal fees, engineering fees, quantity surveyor, ground penetrating radar, builder’s reports, etc are recoverable. When it comes to settlement, sometimes offers are made as a global settlement figure which means one sum including costs is offered. However, most of the time there will be an offer for building repair or rebuild and a separate offer for costs you have incurred. So while costs are important, they do not necessarily impact on your pocket as the liability lies with EQC and the insurer.


3.How can I re-build my house once I’ve paid your fee?


It is true our fee has a large impact on the ultimate settlement of your claim; however, this is an unfortunate consequence resulting of us taking on all the risk for you and paying all your costs on the way through the entire process until settlement. In spite of our fee, we get results far in excess of what EQC or insurers offer. In many cases the ultimate settlement is 300% to 400% above what had been originally offered. Other questions to ask yourself include, What are you going to do with the money? " "Are you going to replace every item in your home “like for like” as the insurer in most cases is required to pay you"?"Are you going to replace walls with lathe & plaster or the much less expensive and modern gib?" "Are you going to replace your floors with rimu native timber or the much less expensive and environmentally sustainable bamboo? "Are you going to use some of the money to invest in a rental property and only do necessary repairs to your current home?" There are many options open to you once your claim is settled, so while our fee is not insignificant, our view is that it will be one of the best investments you have made. Doing nothing could cost you 100% or more.


4.Do you only deal with earthquake claims?


No, though our subsidiary Claims Resolution Service (2015) Ltd, we are a full litigation funding service. We will look at funding any litigation, once we have reviewed your matter we will advise you of our terms and conditions. We’ve recently been engaged by a group of homeowners in the Wanganui to run claims for them against EQC for land slip damage as a result of severe rain events in June 2015. We work with these homeowners individually and as a group, where costs can be saved. We’ve also recently taken on a claim for over $20 million against an insurance broker for professional negligence. Call us to discuss your matter.



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