Tower increases offer on disputed Christchurch claim

9:18 pm on 11 March 2013

Tower Insurance has increased the amount it is willing to pay towards repairing an earthquake-damaged Christchurch home but is still refusing to pay for a more expensive rebuild.

The offer was made on Monday in the High Court at Christchurch, where Matt and Valerie O'Loughlin are involved in a legal fight to force Tower to rebuild their red-zoned home in the suburb of Dallington.

Tower offered to pay an extra $50,000 towards repairing their home after two quantity surveyors did further work on how much this would cost.

However, the O'Loughlins are continuing to claim rebuild costs of just over $660,000, down from the $1.3 million they were asking at the outset of the case.

Earlier on Monday, Tower Insurance admitted that an engineer's report was not sought on the house even though its own experts said one was needed.

Under questioning, Tower's earthquake recovery manager David Ashe admitted the report had not been sought, despite a recommendation from its own experts.

He said one was only sought after the lodging of court action against the company.

Mr Ashe reiterated Tower's view that the house could be repaired, even though it had no engineering advice to back up that view.

Under questioning by the O'Loughlins lawyer, Grant Shand, Mr Ashe admitted the company's goal was to limit the amount of money it ended up paying out.

Mr Shand: "You're a chartered accountant?"

Mr Ashe: "Correct."

Mr Shand: "So you're a money man."

Mr Ashe: "Yes."

Mr Shand: "And you'd obviously accept it's in Tower's financial interests to minimise payments it makes to insureds?"

Mr Ashe: "Tower has to act as if it is uninsured under its reinsurance treaties. We always look for what is the most economical way we can fulfil the obligation for the policy."