Thursday, December 15, 2011

EQC phone home

This post could just as easily been called 'Dances with numbers'... as, just like the movie, the story is quite long. But I'll do my best to get to the point this side of Xmas.

A while back, EQC was doing a big promotional push to encourage people to submit the details necessary for their contents claim to be paid out. "In by October 24th, paid by Xmas", they proclaimed. Which was fine by us - the only contents claim we had submitted was for the carpets & curtains in our demolished home. The proof required by EQC (or so we thought) was the certificate of demolition, which we'd submitted after the house was bulldozed in July.

And then we had a phone call, one Saturday in September, that went a little something like this:
EQC: We don't have a schedule of goods for your contents claim
US: What goods? The claim is for carpets & drapes in a demolished house.
EQC: Do you have any photos of the goods?
US: Well, we don't normally go round photographing the carpet... we might have some photos with curtains in the background...
EQC: We need some evidence to support your claim.
US: This is the claim we put in because the initial EQC inspector said we'd get a payout for carpets & drapes if the house got demolished. Didn't he note down that we had carpet on the floor & curtains on the windows?
EQC: I'll just talk to my team leader...
EQC: That's fine, we just need the certificate of demolition.
US: You already have it, we sent it 2 months ago.
EQC: Oh look, here it is. Thanks very much.

Then, a couple of weeks later, we had another phone call, from a different EQC staff member (or sub-contractor, who knows):
EQC: About this contents claim of yours... we need a schedule of goods.
US: Sigh. That's for the carpets & curtains in our demolished house. We've sent you the certificate of demolition.
EQC: Yes but we need more details... house size... number of rooms... how much carpet... how many windows...
US: How about we send you the info by email?

Email sent. House size... number of rooms... how much carpet... how many windows...

A week or so later, we had another call, from yet another EQC employee/sub-contractor:
EQC: So, this contents claim of yours... we have a few questions...
US: <headdesk>

There was a discrepancy between the house size as noted on their file, and the figures we supplied. And did we have any proof of the number of windows in the house? Photos etc? (It was an old house with many external windows, as well as internal windows in walls & doors... maybe they thought we were inflating the numbers?)

This time the email went off with an accompanying array of scanned documents about the house size and photos showing various windows, either inside or out. The funny thing was, that while reviewing the photos, we remembered 4 more little windows in the front bedrooms, so the figures were duly adjusted and sent back. I was tempted to send them this picture as proof of windows, but I resisted the urge... just.

And then, we waited...
and waited...
and waited a bit more.... until this piece of news appeared:
Great. Now we'll just wait a little longer, shall we? Don't mind us, I mean it's not like we still live there, eh?

Nek minnit (well, a week later): EQC DOES U-TURN OVER FURNISHINGS
Yay! Well, maybe... this sentence was far from reassuring: "Whether the carpets and drapes are covered as contents or as part of the house will depend on the homeowner’s insurance policy, as policy between insurance companies differs." (press release here)

So, are we going to be paid out for carpet and drapes? Or just the curtains? Are we to be penalised for the vague wording of our insurance policy when, all along, EQC have been telling us that we're covered by them and there's an extra payout coming?

So we wait. Again.

Last week (it's December by now), we received an email from EQC to advise us of our impending payout... for drapes AND CARPET. Excitement levels were pretty high as the months of waiting were finally over, with some good news at the end of the saga.

We're looking forward to this payout. We've just forked out to get the driveway & shed removed in order to get the soil test conducted. That soil test will determine whether or not we have to use strengthened foundations, at a possible extra cost of $10,000. There is also a chance that the survey team won't be able to find the original survey pegs (and let's face it, after 80+ years, it's not likely), which will mean having to re-survey the section at a cost of around $5000.

Another scary figure has also entered the picture recently. The first properly drawn-up & costed house plans have just come back and the amount is about $40,000 more than we'd expected... It's not that we did anything wrong, it's just that standard approximations don't work.

Most new houses are much larger than we're planning... and they also have a double garage. With our plan being compact and featuring a single garage, the cheaper part of the build process (the garage) provides a smaller percentage of the overall build, so the cost per sq.m goes up. We live and learn... and are currently going through our options to see what adjustments we can make, to the house plan and to our financing approach. We'll get there. That money from EQC will sure come in handy... when it arrives...

Today we had a phone call from EQC:
EQC: We sent you a cheque and it got returned by NZPost.
US: ????????????!

Yes. They sent a cheque for the payout of carpet & drapes for a demolished house to the address on the claim. They rang us about 5 times throughout this process. Did it not occur to them even once that, seeing as our house has been demolished, perhaps we might be living somewhere else now?

So we wait a little longer yet. We're getting good at that.


  1. Truly unbelievable and i really feel for you!
    However, had enough confusion ourselves over our far less involved claims to know you really can't make this sort of thing up and good on you for keeping your sense of humour. Must be hard for pople outside the area to understand - but I suspect a few Nelson people will soon learn, the hard way.
    Hope you manage a good Xmas, wherever you are living now.

  2. Truth is often stranger than fiction, especially round these parts!
    Xmas will be fairly low key this year, although I'm thinking of making a string of orange road cones for decorations...

    best to you & yours :)

  3. all ridiculous

    KNow of quite a few situations where letters from EQC (and from insurers) are being sent to the address of the claim - even if it is a flat (where the occupier is a tenant not the landlord) or a commercial premises that is not the actuall address of the office of the property (so it does not actually have a letterbox)