Insurers Play Hot Potato

by Morrison Kent - Michael Wolff


The facts of this case are simple; an earthquake damaged the building at 4:35 am. The QBE insurance policy on the building was due to expire at 4 pm that day, and the replacement Allianz policy was to start that day, but there was an argument over whether its inception was at midnight or 4 pm.

The Court held that the contract was formed by communication between the property owners’ agent and the insurer. The agreement was the Allianz policy was to take over from the QBE policy on its expiry (at 4 pm), and the Court found in viewing the communications objectively the parties sought to have the Allianz policy incept on the expiry of the QBE policy. The result was Allianz was the insurer who had to respond to the damage caused by the earthquake.

This case is an excellent example of the problematic challenge insurers face of meeting obligations when issues arise following an earthquake. While these facts will be unique, we often see disputes around the implementation of insurance policies, and if you have any questions regarding an insurance dispute, we recommend you get in touch as soon as possible. Disputes can result from many factors unique to each situation, and for this reason, it is essential to advice specific to your circumstances.


Morrison Kent has been intimately involved in assisting clients, both insurers and those insured alike, with working through issues which have arisen following the recent earthquakes. Given the importance of earthquake risk management and protection in New Zealand, our team has a comprehensive understanding of the law surrounding this type of insurance and can offer essential assistance for achieving the right results.


If you have concerns about your insurance policy or are in the midst of a dispute our team has the expertise you need and can add value through their experience. ContactMichael Wolff on(04) 495 8919 or

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