By: Jonathan Pow
Published: 29/08/2016
If you have an unresolved insurance claim you may need to act fast.
 
Under New Zealand's limitation legislation (the Limitation Act 1950 and the Limitation Act 2010), you can only bring a claim within six years from the date of the event that leads to your dispute.  If you bring a claim outside that time, limitation provides a complete defence.  New Zealand's limitation legislation applies to insurance claims.
 
Residential claims
 
Most insurers have publically stated that, for damage from the 4 September 2010 earthquake, they will not plead a limitation defence if claims were brought in court after 4 September 2016.  This statement only applies to residential claims though.
 
To be certain of your insurer's position, we recommend writing to your insurer to confirm that for your own particular residential claim they would not raise a defence that your claim is time-barred.  This would mean there is no need to file proceedings by 4 September 2016 to continue to attempt to settle your claim, working together with your insurer. 
 
EQC's position is slightly different to the other insurers.  It treats the six year timeframe for bringing claims as starting from the date that it settled your claim (by paying you money) or when it completed repairs to your property.  Here is a link to EQC's website for more information on EQC's position.
 
Commercial claims
 
Unfortunately, insurers have not globally agreed to extend the limitation timeframe for commercial claims.  Insurers will likely look at each commercial claim on a case-by-case basis.
 
If you have an unresolved commercial claim, there is a very real risk that you may have no ability after 4 September 2016 to bring a claim against your insurer for 4 September 2010 earthquake damage.   
Worst case, your insurer could even attempt to decline your claim altogether after 4 September 2016.
 
We recommend you contact us urgently if you have an unresolved commercial claim and have no agreement from your insurer that it will not plead a limitation defence.  We can discuss how the

limitation period applies to your claim and work with you to ensure your claim is protected.  This may mean having to file proceedings in court before 4 September 2016.
 
For further information or assistance on earthquake insurance claims, please contact Richard Johnstone, Emily Walton, Sarah Ulmer or Jonathan Pow.
 
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