16 Dec 2010

Mine insurance payout could take 12 months

1:11 pm on 16 December 2010

The receiver for Pike River Coal says it could take a year for the company's insurance claim to be paid out.

The company went into receivership on Monday, more than three weeks after explosions begain at the West Coast mine in which 29 workers died.

Receiver John Fisk of PriceWaterhouseCoopers says the calculations to lodge a claim under the company's business interruption insurance are still being worked on.

He told Nine to Noon on Thursday the policy is worth $100 million but the amount paid out may be significantly less.

Mr Fisk says the money available to repay creditors will depend on the size of the insurance payout and the recovery of assets, possibly including those in the mine.

Mr Fisk said earlier that loss adjusters, who had not long arrived in New Zealand, need to go through an investigation process and establish that legitimate claims can be made.

"Then it's a case of calculating what the loss is - and that won't be a quick process."

Mr Fisk says the insurance company does not have to wait for the findings of the Royal Commission to pay out on the claim.

Long wait likely

Insurance industry sources say the sort of money involved in the $100 million of business interruption cover would is only paid out after careful investigation to ensure the conditions of the policy have been met.

In this case, assessors would be unable to investigate a wrecked and dangerous coal mine and would rely on Royal Commission to provide answers.

This could take months or even years, and would require Pike River Coal to show it matched best practice for the industry.

If the inquiry can not say what caused the explosion, the insurers would definitely pay up. Pike River Coal's secured creditors would have first claim on that money.

Blow for local economy

It is estimated the closure of the mine will cost the Grey District $13 million a year.

West Coast leaders met with Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee on Wednesday, seeking help for a stimulus programme to ensure more heavy industry jobs are created.

Mr Brownlee expects to have proposals by early February.