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Deal struck to end insurance 'freeze'

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9.28.2014.jpgMajor insurers have agreed to a deal to lift the "freeze" on house insurance policies being issued.

Immediately after the first earthquake centred on Kaikoura insurers stopped issuing new policies raising fears house sales across the South Island and lower North Island would be disrupted.

But Terry Jordan from The Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) has brokered a deal in which insurers will issue policies to new owners of homes, if they insured the old owner.

ICNZ has also been negotiating with the Earthquake Commission (EQC) on a deal which could mean owners of homes damaged in the earthquakes centre on Kaikoura have an easier time making claims than owners of homes damaged in the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.

After a natural disaster freezes on new policies are immediately implemented.

It is done both to placate international reinsurers who do not want to take on any more risk, but also prevent people without cover rushing to put some in place.

But Jordan said all major insurers had now agreed to issue policies to new owners of homes, if they were the insurer for the vendor.

"We have had confirmation from most of the insurers, and all of the big ones," Jordan said.

But he said insurers might still refuse if the buyers had criminal records or "adverse" claims histories, such as having been caught trying to defraud an insurer.

The deal does not however end the freeze on homeowners who want to lift the sum their home is insured for, or put in place cover for a property that is not currently insured.

ICNZ has also been in talks with EQC on an accord aimed at taking some of the pain out of making claims on quake-damaged homes.

Many owners of homes damaged in the Christchurch earthquakes have had "nightmares" dealing with EQC and private insurers.

The aim of the ongoing negotiations with EQC was to find a way to remove the "duplication" that saw owners of quake-damaged Canterbury homes have to go through the tortuous process of dealing with claims assessors from both the EQC and private insurers.

Instead, ICNZ would like each claim handled by a single claims assessor. It hopes to be able to announce a deal in the next few days.
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