Southern Response's interactions with IFSO and ICNZ

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,

This is relating to Southern Response’s activities in dealing with a complaint about ethical violations raised by policyholders who are considered to have vulnerable status according to the New Zealand Human Rights Commission guidelines.

In 2018 a complaint was raised about Southern Response committing ethical violations. In 2019 the Dispute Resolutions Scheme, Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme (IFSO Scheme), found that Southern Response had committed Significant Breaches of the Fair Insurance Code (FIC). In 2020 ICNZ’s Code Compliance Committee upheld the IFSO Scheme’s findings that Southern Response had Significantly Breached the FIC. This was then passed to the ICNZ Board of insurance industry executives who affirmed the findings.

The complaint was originally filed with ICNZ in August 2018 to be heard at the November 2018 Code Compliance Committee meeting. ICNZ agreed to this, collected the relevant information and then two days before the meeting in November ICNZ said that after speaking to Southern Response that they would not hear the complaint based on information that had already been provided and assessed back in August. ICNZ reversed their previous decision saying that the complaint needed to be heard by the IFSO Scheme first.

1) Did any representative of Southern Response communicate with either the IFSO Scheme or ICNZ relating to getting ICNZ not to hear the complaint in November 2018?

After the complaint was lodged with the IFSO Scheme, Southern Response was asked to provide their response within two weeks of 5 November 2018. Instead of two weeks Southern Response took 3.5 months finally making the submission on 1 March 2019.

Southern Response missed the following deadlines set by the IFSO Scheme staff managing the complaint.

* 5 November 2018 deadline set to 19 November 2018
* 10 December 2018 IFSO asked for the submission.
* 19 December 2018 IFSO asked for submission with Southern Response saying that it will start the submission in January.
* 9 January 2019 IFSO asked for submission.
* 14 January 2019 Southern Response requested an extension to 28 January 2019.
* 23 January 2019 Southern Response requested an extension to 2 February 2019.
* 1 March 2019 Southern Response said the submission will be sent shortly.

2) Were there any other deadlines or requests for the submission that Southern Response did not meet?
3) What reason did Southern Response give to the IFSO Scheme for not making the submission on 2 February 2019?

During the period that Southern Response was supposed to be submitting its response to the complaint it engaged in communication on 13 December 2018 with the IFSO Scheme staff handling the complaint saying:

* Southern Response was in direct discussions with the IFSO Scheme’s Ombudsman about convincing the complainants to not pursue a decision about violations of the Fair Insurance Code, and instead to have a “facilitated meeting” about the claim.
* Southern Response said that the IFSO Scheme’s Ombudsman had made contact with the secondary complainant to change her mind about the complaint.
* Southern Response said that involving the primary contact would “likely to pose some difficulties” because he was in a different country.

4) Who initiated contact between Southern Response and the IFSO Scheme’s Ombudsman?
5) When was contact first made between Southern Response and the IFSO Scheme’s Ombudsman about the complaint or complainants?
6) What reasons does Southern Response have for directly communicating with the IFSO Scheme’s Ombudsman instead of addressing all communication through the IFSO Scheme staff assigned to the complaint?
7) Did Southern Response’s stated desire to not address the complaint impact on the timeliness of Southern Response providing its submission to the IFSO Scheme?
8) Did Southern Response inform the IFSO Scheme’s Ombudsman that the secondary complainant should not be contacted because it knew she was in extremely poor health and had not been engaged on the claim in years?
9) What facts did Southern Response use to conclude that involving the primary contact would be difficult despite having been involved with the primary contact for years prior?

On 5 November 2018 in an email between Southern Response and the IFSO Scheme it is said that “Although you may have addressed the complaint in previous correspondence, it is important that you now address the specific matters raised by the Complainant in the complaint form and supporting letter.”

10) Did Southern Response address the complaint in previous correspondence with the IFSO Scheme?
11) When did the previous correspondence start?

Southern Response staff were directly communicating with the IFSO Scheme’s Ombudsman, and the Southern Responses CEO was directly communicating with the ICNZ Chief Executive.

12) Please confirm that Southern Response staff were communicating with the IFSO Scheme’s Ombudsman about not addressing the complaint, while missing deadlines in dealing with the IFSO Scheme staff responsible for the complaint.
13) Please confirm that the Southern Response CEO communicated by email about this complaint with the ICNZ Chief Executive in December 2018, and by phone in June 2019, and that these dates are prior to Southern Response giving notice to ICNZ about the IFSO Scheme’s finding of a Significant Breach of the Fair Insurance Code.

In the IFSO Scheme’s findings it attributed a number of matters to inexperienced staff, instead of dishonesty. However, Southern Response has said that these statements of inexperienced staff are limited to the dates 17 January 2017 to 3 November 2017.

Outside of this timeframe Southern Response’s gave the primary complainant a 1 week deadline to technically disprove a repair methodology that Southern Response’s geotechnical engineers had already told them was not a valid repair option. Southern Response said that if the complainant did not provide his own technical evidence that Southern Response would proceed with their desired repair methodology without further input from the policyholders.

This 1 week deadline was given while the complainant was in hospital, having been admitted to ICU, was undergoing procedures, and had told Southern Response that he needed to reduce his stress.

This matter, and more, was not specifically addressed in the IFSO Scheme’s findings, and when it was questioned the IFSO Scheme’s Ombudsman said that the IFSO Scheme would not make any assessments of dishonesty and that ICNZ should make an assessment instead. However, ICNZ only addressed the matters explicitly cited by the IFSO Scheme, choosing to ignore the Ombudsman’s statements that they should make an assessment of dishonesty.

14) Southern Response stated to the IFSO Scheme that it did not do anything that would bring the industry into disrepute. (A requirement for a finding of a Significant Breach) Does this include actions taken like assigning a short deadline, regarding a repair methodology known to be invalid, while aware the complainant was in hospital and requested respite?

Despite both the IFSO Scheme and ICNZ finding that Southern Response had committed Significant Breaches of the Fair Insurance Code, the IFSO Scheme did not recommend any remedial action, and ICNZ did not enforce any sanctions against Southern Response.

Southern Response stated to ICNZ that “Southern Response wishes to be heard by the ICNZ’s Code Compliance Committee before the Committee makes any decisions or recommendations in relation to this complaint or Assessment.”

15) What information did Southern Response supply to the ICNZ Code Compliance Committee that led them to conclude that the complaint was resolved?
16) Was Southern Response aware that the ICNZ Code Compliance Committee processes would mean that it would not contact the complainant to verify any details supplied by Southern Response?

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).

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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

Link to this

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

Link to this

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: 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 11 Nov.pdf
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Dear S. Rowe,

Please find attached our response to your request.

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:
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