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  • Forum on insurance for the elderly

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    Hundreds of elderly Christchurch residents have vented their anger at major insurance companies , saying they were too old to keep "boxing with shadows".
    The 300-strong crowd at the eastern suburbs older generation's forum last Frdiay went head to head with senior managers from IAG, Lumley, AA Insurance, Vero and Southern Response and the chief executive of the Insurance Council.

    The elderly spoke of their frustrations with insurance companies, including listening to "daft music" while on hold, being flicked from one staff member to another like a "ping-pong ball" and the "need for answers so we can move on with our lives".

    They repeatedly called for face-to-face meetings with their insurance companies rather than having a conversation with a call centre or receiving an automatic email response."The stress of dealing with insurance companies and EQC [Earthquake Commission] is more devastating than the earthquakes themselves," one woman told the crowd.

    "How many of us want to be fighting at this age? Anger is not good for us. At this age you just fall over and drop dead," another man said.
    One 83-year-old Parklands woman, who was too ill to represent herself, had a friend tell the forum she was "determined to stay alive until you fix her house".

    Community worker Betty Chapman spoke on behalf of another elderly woman who had been paying insurance for years. "I am old and now I'm not insured at all. I do not understand. I'm ashamed at being old and I feel very humiliated."

    Insurance representatives apologised to the crowd and said they had taken on board all of the issues that had been raised. A spokeswoman from IAG said: "All I can do is apologise. We are here in front of you to say we haven't done enough."

    A man whose quake-damaged inhome was deemed repairable earlier challenged representatives from his insurance company to come and live in it. Mike Freeman told company representatives at the forum that four separate EQC assessments had determined that his home should be a rebuild.

    He said his house had liquefaction and sewage through it and a technician had said it would need to be decontaminated to make it safe for demolition crews.Yet Mr Freeman said insurance company IAG was still saying the house could be repaired.

    Renee Walker from IAG apologised for the situation. She said the company was aware it had not done enough in some cases and she urged Mr Freeman to come and talk to her.Other problems raised included the difficulties many residents had getting hold of their insurance companies and communicating their issues.


    Christchurch East Labour MP Lianne Dalziel, city councillors Peter Beck and Glenn Livingstone and former mayor Garry Moore were also at the forum.
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