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Is Southern Response repairing your house in accordance with best practice?

[Post from 23 January 2017]

Today, (23 January 2017) GCA lawyers received a call from a Southern Response client who was concerned that their insurer was insisting on settling his insurance claim on the basis of a low mobility grout lift. This method has been by the courts and is no longer used by the industry.

Two court cases in 2013 considered whether it was proper to repair earthquake damaged foundations by lifting them through the injection of low mobility grout (as opposed to using a mechanical lift and then using grout to fill any voids).

In both cases, the judges expressed real concerns about whether such repair options are reasonable.

In Rout v Southern Response Earthquake Services Ltd [2013] NZHC 3262 Southern Response had proposed the use of low mobility grout in repairing the concrete slab foundation of the house. Justice D Gendall referred to the MBIE Guidance Document which he noted listed the low mobility grout as a repair option for TC1 and TC2 properties. As the property would be classified as TC3, the judge said that “issues must therefore arise as to whether this LMG repair option is appropriate here.”

In O’Loughlin v Tower Insurance [2013] NZHC 670 Tower considered the house as repairable, using injections of low mobility grout to re-level the concrete slab foundation. The O’Loughlins’ expert felt that there would be significant difficulties both in terms of obtaining a building consent and in actually carrying out such a repair. Tower had to concede that it had never carried out a residential repair using only LMG methods, and that there was a risk the concrete slab would crack upon re-levelling. Accordingly, Justice Asher held that "no reasonable insured or insurer would commit to carry out actual repairs in this way," at least without further investigations.

In 2014, EQC conducted trials to test low mobility grout repairs.

As a result of those trials, Southern Response states that it has changed its process and no longer uses low mobility grout at as a method of relevelling.

However, it seems that while Southern Response may no longer propose low mobility grout lifts as a repair method, where they have proposed one previously, they seem very happy to insist on progressing on that basis.

Make sure you understand what is being proposed for your repair and that Southern Response is proposing a genuine, fair and consentable methodology.

If you are seeking independent legal advice on your insurance claim, contact the litigation team at gca Lawyers on (03) 365 1347 for a no-obligation meeting.