Insurers can appeal order to pay retired couple nearly $500,000 for botched earthquake repairs

A retired Christchurch couple have finally received money for their failed earthquake repairs following a drawn-out legal process, but now their insurance company can appeal.

Alan and Joan Sleight have been awarded $389,848 by the High Court to repair their home to the ‘when new’ policy standard.

In April 2021, the court ruled in their favor again, awarding them an additional $480,000 in costs and interest. Their insurer, IAG New Zealand, has now obtained the right to challenge this decision.

The couple’s house in Hillmorton was damaged in the September 2010 and February 2011 earthquakes, and they claimed their insurance policy from IAG.

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Insurers appointed Hawkins Management Ltd and builders Farrell Residential Ltd to carry out the repairs, but there were ‘numerous flaws’ in the work.

In 2017, the Sleights took legal action and sued IAG New Zealand, the repairer, the project manager overseeing the repairs and the project manager’s insurance company.

Retired plumber Alan Sleight and retired nurse Joan Sleight, pictured in November 2020.

JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Stuff

Retired plumber Alan Sleight and retired nurse Joan Sleight, pictured in November 2020.

The case was heard in the High Court and Judge Warwick Gendall upheld most of their claims against each of the four defendants and awarded damages for the cost of further repair work.

Adding interest to the costs award was a matter of fairness and principle, and was intended to compensate the Sleights for late payment, he said.

However, IAG New Zealand has filed two appeals – the first concerning the judge’s refusal to allow its entire compensation claim against the project leader. The second relates to the decision to allocate the owners’ interest dating from 2015.

The Court of Appeal’s judgment, delivered on Wednesday, determined that IAG was granted leave to appeal and “the High Court’s decision awarding interest to the first defendants is set aside.”

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