Saturday 23 February 2013

The Christchurch earthquake

NZ gov't complicit in slowness of Christchurch recovery

Two years on from the Christchurch earthquakes, a local author, Sarah Miles, says the insurance industry has failed in its response to the disaster.


Sarah Miles, the author of "The Christchurch Fiasco: the Insurance Aftershock and its Implications for New Zealand and Beyond", has written a comprehensive book on the performance of insurance companies in Christchurch, the global context to their failure, and the implications for the rest of New Zealand against a background of quakes, her own personal struggles with insurance and the loss of her home and professional and voluntary counselling. 

Sarah's background as an international lawyer in the field of corporate and commercial law in a global market has undoubtedly aided her in the painstaking research into the insurance industry that underpins this book and informs her analysis. Her more recent background as a psychotherapist in Christchurch, particularly her work following the earthquake as a volunteer for the 'Flying Squad' offered her insight into the level of distress caused by the failure of the insurance industry to honour their claims. This has driven her to make the enormous investment in time required to write " the Christchurch Fiasco". Through her blog and Facebook page she also continues to provide support and information to those trapped in the distressing insurance aftermath of the earthquakes.  

Her compassion is enriched by personal experience. The insurance dilemma also struck close to home. Sarah and her husband's house, located only a few kilometers from the quake epicentre, was so badly damaged in September, 2010 that it is uninhabitable and they have been living with her father since then, commuting in order to maintain their 10 acre property. More than two years later, the insurance claim for the house remains unresolved. 

Sarah goal in writing "the Christchurch Fiasco", however, goes far beyond a personal gripe and even beyond the Christchurch situation both in its breadth and tone. She states, "My goal is to make my voice heard for the causes in which I believe so as to improve and contribute to a more sustainable and equitable society...My intention is to expose the current Government and the insurance industry's failure to protect the citizens of Christchurch post earthquake and draw attention to the need for change in order to ensure that there is not a repeat of the Christchurch fiasco."

Sarah speaks wryly of her own experiences with State insurance, but while she could not avoid the damage caused by the earthquake and has limited ability to control 'insurance damage' she has obviously not allowed these issues to touch her spirit. Instead, her response to inequity and unfairness has been to agitate for the people of Christchurch and the rights of any New Zealander ever placed in the same situation

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