Southern Response ethics violations

S. Rowe made this Official Information request to Southern Response Earthquake Services Limited

Response to this request is long overdue. By law Southern Response Earthquake Services Limited should have responded by now (details and exceptions). You can complain to the Ombudsman.

From: S. Rowe

Dear Southern Response Earthquake Services Limited,

In 2019 the Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme (IFSO Scheme) made a judgement that Southern Response had committed significant ethical violations in the handling of the claim of two people who are considered vulnerable by New Zealand Human Rights Commission.

Southern Response was required to report the assessment to the Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ), who agreed with the IFSO Scheme that Southern Response had committed a Significant Breach of the Fair Insurance Code.

This is apparently the first time that any organisation in New Zealand had been found to have committed an unresolved Significant Breach of the Fair Insurance Code.

1) For each of the Southern Response directors, Alister James, Bevan Killick, Anne Urlwin, and the minister for Southern Response Grant Robertson, please provide the following information.
a) When were each first informed there was an ethics complaint?
b) What updates were each given about the ethics complaint?
c) Which of these individuals recommended any actions regarding the complaint, the policyholders, or the way the claim was being handled, and what are the details of those recommendations?

A few weeks after the IFSO Scheme assessment, but more than half a year before the ICNZ assessment, Southern Response told the policyholders that they were no longer permitted to submit any complaints and that any attempt to make a complaint would be “filed without response”. As Southern Response ignored new and existing complaints they did not provide letters of “deadlock” to the policyholders, which the IFSO Scheme lists as a requirement for investigating if Southern Response had further violated the ICNZ code of ethics.

2) Was denying the policyholders the ability to make complaints something that was recommended by the law firm that Southern Response paid to advise on their submission to the IFSO Scheme?

Southern Response has ended it’s membership with ICNZ and is therefore no longer bound to the industry accepted code of ethics.

The timing of this could be explained by the handover of claims from Southern Response to EQC. However, in the Agency Agreement between the two agencies Southern Response retained the ability to reallocate any claim back to itself.

3) Did Southern Response consider that remaining a member of ICNZ would be appropriate given that it may again handle claims directly instead of through EQC?
4) When did Southern Response make the decision to stop being a member of ICNZ?
5) When did Southern Response inform ICNZ that it would stop being a member?

The EQC staff looking after the claim were former Southern Response staff, and they forwarded questions similar to ‘what is the status of the claim’, ‘when was the DRA received by Southern Response’, and ‘what is your role at EQC’ to Southern Response to answer.

6) Were the EQC staff given a mandate to forward questions to Southern Response?
7) Was that mandate related specifically to this claim or additional claims?
8) What was the reasoning for Southern Response considering that a conversation it had with EQC about the “the role of EQC Settlement Specialist“ is considered legal privilege and has been redacted in Privacy Act requests?
9) What formal arrangement does Southern Response have with EQC to act as its legal advisor?
10) Are Alister George James, Bevan Edward Killick, Anne June Urlwin, and Grant Murray Robertson aware that Southern Response is providing legal counsel to EQC on a claim that Southern Response has been found to have committed significant ethical violations?

After the policyholders asked these questions Southern Response reallocated the claim back to itself and told the policyholders that they were still not allowed to file complaints, and that they would not be provided any support as vulnerable people. Casey Hurren from Southern Response further stated that “the reason that your claim was transferred back to Southern Response is that my assessment was that both continuity, familiarity and extensive experience as an insurance law practitioner was needed for your claim”.

11) Has Southern Response requested that all claims be reallocated because there is a lack of continuity and familiarity with EQC handling the claims?
12) Did EQC express interest to Southern Response to reallocate this claim back to Southern Response?
13) As the Ombudsman Act 1975 does not apply to Southern Response, but does to the Earthquake Commission, did Southern Response reallocate the claim to prevent the policyholders from seeking intervention from the New Zealand Ombudsman?
14) Did Southern Response consider that instead of needing “extensive experience as an insurance law practitioner” that it could instead just stop acting in a way that breached the code of ethics it agreed to uphold?

ICNZ has stated in writing that Southern Response denying the policyholders from filing complaints is not only a further significant breach of the Fair Insurance Code, but also a violation of the rules of membership to ICNZ. However, ICNZ has said that it can not make a formal assessment because it must go through the IFSO Scheme first.

Southern Response has told the IFSO Scheme that it did not tell the policyholders that they can not file complaints. This is despite there being multiple emails from Southern Response to the policyholders saying so. The IFSO Scheme is also saying that it does not have jurisdiction over the matters that it has already found Southern Response to have been in breach of in the first complaint that Southern Response continues to breach. The complaint was filed in December 2019 and no action has been taken by the IFSO Scheme except trying to not accept the complaint.

15) Has Southern Response been working with the IFSO Scheme’s Ombudsman to prevent the complaint filed before Southern Response left ICNZ from making its way to ICNZ?

Yours faithfully,

S. Rowe

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From: OIA Requests
Southern Response Earthquake Services Limited


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This is An Automated Message, Do Not Reply To This Email.

 

 

We acknowledge receipt of your e-mail to [1][Southern Response request email].

 

If your e-mail contains a request for official information under the
Official Information Act 1982 (the “OIA”), we will advise you of our
decision no later than 20 working days after the date on which we received
your request. 

 

Please note that if we need to extend this timeframe, we will notify you
prior to the 20 working days expiring in accordance with section 15A of
the OIA.

 

If your e-mail does not contain a request for official information, we
will re-direct it to the appropriate department within Southern Response
(which, depending on the substance of your e-mail, may respond
accordingly).

 

Kind regards

 

Southern Response

 

 

[2]cid:image001.jpg@01D21297.05913610

 

Southern Response Earthquake Services Ltd is the government-owned company
responsible for settling claims by AMI policyholders for Canterbury
earthquake damage which occurred before 5 April 2012 (the date AMI was
sold to IAG).

 

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From: OIA Requests
Southern Response Earthquake Services Limited

Dear S. Rowe,

Thank you for your requests for information under the Official Information Act 1982 (Act) received on 2, 12 and 13 October 2020. We are responding to all three of your requests with this communication.

As you have contacted Southern Response via an intermediary website and not provided us with your first name or any other contact details, we do need to check whether you meet the eligibility requirements in section 12 of the Act for requesting official information from us.

In particular, we need check whether you are:
a. a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident; or
b. actually present in New Zealand; or
c. a body corporate (that is, a company or an incorporated society) that is incorporated in New Zealand or has a place of business in New Zealand.

Please contact us directly to discuss the types of evidence that would be acceptable for your particular situation. You can email us directly at [Southern Response request email] to discuss this or to set a up a private telephone discussion with a staff member.

Once your eligibility to request official information from us has been established, we would also like to discuss with you directly how we may be able to help you to amend your information request so that it is more likely to be granted.

Unfortunately, some parts of your original requests are unlikely to be granted as they are currently drafted. For example, some parts of your original information requests seek the private insurance claim information of individual policyholders. Southern Response will not provide private policyholder information to you unless you obtain signed privacy waivers from the individuals concerned. (Please also note that if you wish to be provided with private insurance claim information via the FYI website, the privacy waivers you obtain from each policyholder will need to expressly authorise the publication of their private information on the internet.)

In light of the above, we look forward to hearing from you directly as soon as possible to both:
a. verify your eligibility to request official information from us; and
b. discuss with you how your original requests for information could be amended so that they are more likely to be granted.

Kind regards,
Kelsey

OIA Team
Southern Response Earthquake Services Ltd

PO Box 9052
Christchurch
www.southernresponse.co.nz

Southern Response Earthquake Services Ltd is the government-owned company responsible for settling claims by AMI policyholders for Canterbury earthquake damage which occurred before 5 April 2012 (the date AMI was sold to IAG).

This email and any attachments contain confidential information which may be subject to legal privilege and copyright.
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From: S. Rowe

Dear OIA Requests,

No personal information has been requested. Please explain where you think that personal information would be exposed and why redacting the information wouldn't be sufficient to address privacy concerns.

Please feel free to contact the individuals you have stated would be affected by the request to establish eligability of this OIA request.

Yours sincerely,

S. Rowe

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From: OIA Requests
Southern Response Earthquake Services Limited


Attachment image001.jpg
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This is An Automated Message, Do Not Reply To This Email.

 

 

We acknowledge receipt of your e-mail to [1][Southern Response request email].

 

If your e-mail contains a request for official information under the
Official Information Act 1982 (the “OIA”), we will advise you of our
decision no later than 20 working days after the date on which we received
your request. 

 

Please note that if we need to extend this timeframe, we will notify you
prior to the 20 working days expiring in accordance with section 15A of
the OIA.

 

If your e-mail does not contain a request for official information, we
will re-direct it to the appropriate department within Southern Response
(which, depending on the substance of your e-mail, may respond
accordingly).

 

Kind regards

 

Southern Response

 

 

[2]cid:image001.jpg@01D21297.05913610

 

Southern Response Earthquake Services Ltd is the government-owned company
responsible for settling claims by AMI policyholders for Canterbury
earthquake damage which occurred before 5 April 2012 (the date AMI was
sold to IAG).

 

show quoted sections

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From: OIA Requests
Southern Response Earthquake Services Limited

Dear S. Rowe

Thank you for your 20 October 2020 communication.

Please contact us directly to discuss whether you meet the eligibility requirements in section 12 of the Official Information Act and the supporting evidence you may be able to provide.

You can email us directly at [Southern Response request email] to discuss this or to set a up a private telephone discussion with a staff member.

Kind regards
OIA Team

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From: S. Rowe

Dear OIA Requests,

I am still waiting for you to provide the specific questions that you believe will expose personal information so that I may amend any that may actually cause Privacy Act issues. Please provide these as soon as possible.

Regarding the Official Information Act (the OIA).

Section 13 of the OIA sets forth a duty for Southern Response to provide reasonable assistance.

Please see the New Zealand Ombudsman’s “The OIA for Ministers and agencies” section “Eligibility to request official information” subsection “What if a requester is not eligible?” for information on the Ombudsman still retaining jurisdiction even if you do not establish eligibility to the level Southern Response deems appropriate.

Please see the New Zealand Ombudsman’s “Requests made online” section “Establishing eligibility under the OIA“ which states:

“Agencies are entitled to make reasonable enquiries to satisfy themselves that a requester is
eligible to make a request under the OIA. However, the eligibility requirement is not about imposing unnecessary barriers to legitimate requests. Agencies should only query eligibility if
there is a genuine need to do so, and they should be mindful of their obligation to provide
reasonable assistance to requesters.“

and:

“Time taken to confirm eligibility may mean less time is available for processing a request that is subsequently confirmed to be valid. With that in mind, agencies should endeavour to resolve any doubts about a requester’s eligibility as soon as possible.“

However, I have provided a method for you to make a determination of eligibility. You have not taken up this method of verifying the eligibility. Please make use of this method, and please be mindful of the 20 working day requirement from when this request was submitted.

Yours sincerely,

S. Rowe

Link to this

From: OIA Requests
Southern Response Earthquake Services Limited


Attachment image001.jpg
7K Download


This is An Automated Message, Do Not Reply To This Email.

 

 

We acknowledge receipt of your e-mail to [1][Southern Response request email].

 

If your e-mail contains a request for official information under the
Official Information Act 1982 (the “OIA”), we will advise you of our
decision no later than 20 working days after the date on which we received
your request. 

 

Please note that if we need to extend this timeframe, we will notify you
prior to the 20 working days expiring in accordance with section 15A of
the OIA.

 

If your e-mail does not contain a request for official information, we
will re-direct it to the appropriate department within Southern Response
(which, depending on the substance of your e-mail, may respond
accordingly).

 

Kind regards

 

Southern Response

 

 

[2]cid:image001.jpg@01D21297.05913610

 

Southern Response Earthquake Services Ltd is the government-owned company
responsible for settling claims by AMI policyholders for Canterbury
earthquake damage which occurred before 5 April 2012 (the date AMI was
sold to IAG).

 

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: S. Rowe

Dear OIA Requests,

Question 13 containts an error. While Southern Response was explictly removed from the Ombudsman Act 1975, it was added back under the blanket "Companies named in Schedule 4A of the Public Finance Act 1989".

As such, please ignore question 13 and I will request relevant information under a new OIA request.

Yours sincerely,

S. Rowe

Link to this

From: OIA Requests
Southern Response Earthquake Services Limited


Attachment image001.jpg
7K Download


This is An Automated Message, Do Not Reply To This Email.

 

 

We acknowledge receipt of your e-mail to [1][Southern Response request email].

 

If your e-mail contains a request for official information under the
Official Information Act 1982 (the “OIA”), we will advise you of our
decision no later than 20 working days after the date on which we received
your request. 

 

Please note that if we need to extend this timeframe, we will notify you
prior to the 20 working days expiring in accordance with section 15A of
the OIA.

 

If your e-mail does not contain a request for official information, we
will re-direct it to the appropriate department within Southern Response
(which, depending on the substance of your e-mail, may respond
accordingly).

 

Kind regards

 

Southern Response

 

 

[2]cid:image001.jpg@01D21297.05913610

 

Southern Response Earthquake Services Ltd is the government-owned company
responsible for settling claims by AMI policyholders for Canterbury
earthquake damage which occurred before 5 April 2012 (the date AMI was
sold to IAG).

 

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: OIA Requests
Southern Response Earthquake Services Limited

Dear S. Rowe,

Thank you for your email.

We again request that you contact us directly to discuss whether you meet the eligibility requirements in section 12 of the Official Information Act and the supporting evidence you may be able to provide.

We can assist you with this aspect of your request but will not make enquiries of third parties until your eligibility to make requests under the Act has been confirmed.

We look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible. If you are unable to provide us with acceptable evidence of your eligibility within the 20 day timeframe, we will have to decline your request.

Kind regards,
OIA Team

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From: S. Rowe

Dear OIA Requests,

I again request the list of questions that you believe will expose private information. You raised this concern on 14 October 2020, but have yet to provide any information that would allow me to take corrective action.

You have raised the concern that you do not wish to make contact with a third party, however can you please confirm that if the third party (who you already know to be eligible) made contact with you that you would then accept that this request meets the eligibility criteria?

Further, can you please provide the reasoning why Southern Response believes that there is a genuine need to query eligibility?

Yours sincerely,

S. Rowe

Link to this

From: OIA Requests
Southern Response Earthquake Services Limited


Attachment image001.jpg
7K Download


This is An Automated Message, Do Not Reply To This Email.

 

 

We acknowledge receipt of your e-mail to [1][Southern Response request email].

 

If your e-mail contains a request for official information under the
Official Information Act 1982 (the “OIA”), we will advise you of our
decision no later than 20 working days after the date on which we received
your request. 

 

Please note that if we need to extend this timeframe, we will notify you
prior to the 20 working days expiring in accordance with section 15A of
the OIA.

 

If your e-mail does not contain a request for official information, we
will re-direct it to the appropriate department within Southern Response
(which, depending on the substance of your e-mail, may respond
accordingly).

 

Kind regards

 

Southern Response

 

 

[2]cid:image001.jpg@01D21297.05913610

 

Southern Response Earthquake Services Ltd is the government-owned company
responsible for settling claims by AMI policyholders for Canterbury
earthquake damage which occurred before 5 April 2012 (the date AMI was
sold to IAG).

 

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: OIA Requests
Southern Response Earthquake Services Limited

Dear S. Rowe,

Our first priority has been establishing your eligibility to make a request. Once this is confirmed we will be able to address the content of your request.

If this request was made directly by someone who we knew met the eligibility criteria then we would be able to process the request. A third party contacting us would not provide verification that you meet the eligibility to make a request.

We outlined in our initial response why we needed to check whether you met eligibility requirements. We also note from the timing of some of your responses that these have been outside of NZ business hours (3am and 4am) which could indicate that you are not making the request from New Zealand, and subsequently may not be a NZ resident, which would make you ineligible to request information.

We again request that you contact us directly to discuss whether you meet the eligibility requirements in section 12 of the Official Information Act and the supporting evidence you may be able to provide.

Regards,
OIA Team

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From: OIA Requests
Southern Response Earthquake Services Limited


Attachment 331 Response to S Rowe 10 Nov.pdf
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Dear S. Rowe,

Please find attached our response to your OIA request.

Kind regards,
OIA Team

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S. Rowe left an annotation ()

There will be further updates on this request. No timeframe is yet known.

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Things to do with this request

Anyone:
Southern Response Earthquake Services Limited only: