Southern Response is a Government-owned company that was formed following the Canterbury earthquakes in 2011. It was formerly part of AMI Insurance.
The ongoing series of earthquakes since September 2010 had a profound impact on AMI and its Canterbury customers. As a result of the unprecedented cost of earthquake claims, in April 2011, AMI received capital support from the New Zealand Government to ensure the interests of all AMI policyholders were protected and all claims would continue to be met under the terms of their policies.
On 5 April 2012 AMI separated into two companies:
- Southern Response - the new company name for AMI's former earthquake claims management team. Southern Response is also financially responsible for a small number of non-earthquake related claims resulting from events (such as the 2013 Nelson floods and some snow damage claims) which were not part of IAG's purchase of AMI; although these claims continue to be managed day to day by AMI.
- AMI Insurance - this 'new' AMI company is now owned by IAG as of separation on 5 April 2012. It kept the AMI name and logo and continues to provide day to day insurance. AMI is responsible for all claims for any damage (including earthquakes) which occur after 5 April 2012.
AMI policyholders with earthquake-related claims continue to be customers of both the 'new' AMI and Southern Response until their earthquake claim is settled.
As of 2020, Southern Response claims will be managed by EQC:
In October 2019, the Government announced that Southern Response would be winding up its in-house claims settlement function at the end of the year and EQC would manage the remaining claims as Southern Response's agent from 2020.
This was because Southern Response had settled over 99% of its entire claims portfolio (over 48,000 claims), and would only have around 300 claims remaining by the end of 2019. Bringing all of the remaining Crown claims into the one agency was considered the best way of ensuring that all remaining Canterbury earthquake customers are well-served right through until final settlement of all claims.
Southern Response continues to exist, but with a focus on its ongoing legal, financial and reporting obligations. This ongoing entity will retain ultimate decision-making responsibilities and will also manage litigation.
Southern Response will firstly use the available reinsurance cover AMI had in place for each earthquake event to settle earthquake claims. Additional funds will come from retained capital from the sale of AMI to IAG and other retained assets.
Southern Response also has funding available from the Government if required to ensure every earthquake claim it is responsible for is fully settled under the terms of the insurance policies.
Southern Response is gradually winding down as claims are settled progressively, and once all financial and legal obligations are complete the company will close.
Ownership Structure and Governance
Southern Response is a Crown-owned company with a Board of Directors appointed by the Crown as sole shareholder.
Southern Response is incorporated under the Companies Act 1993 and is listed in Schedule 4A of the Public Finance Act 1989. The company's shareholders are the Minister of Finance and the Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration.