This September marks six years since the first Christchurch earthquake and there were concerns that insurers may seek to avoid claims by relying on the usual six year limitation period provided for in the Limitation Act.
However, in December 2015 the Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) announced through its website that members AA Insurance, FMG, the IAG brands, MAS, Tower and Vero had agreed not to plead limitation defences for residential Christchurch earthquake claims filed after 4 September 2016. The ICNZ further noted that 4 September 2016 would be viewed as the earliest date the Limitation Act defence could have been used, regardless of different policy wordings and interpretations of when the usual six year period is taken to start.
Interestingly, the EQC has said that in its view the six year limitation period does not in any event run from the date of each earthquake, and so there is no September deadline for bringing proceedings against the EQC in relation to September 2010 damage. Rather, where an EQC claim has been settled, the time period will run from the settlement date. Where a claim has been declined, it will run from date of declinature, according to the EQC.
There have been no similar directions given in relation to commercial properties. Neither is it clear what the position will be for properties that are partly residential and partly commercial.