Southern Response has today confirmed that it will be winding up its in-house claims settlement function by the end of this year, and from that point remaining claims will be handled by EQC acting as Southern Response’s agent.

Southern Response will continue 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 CEO Anthony Honeybone said it makes sense for Southern Response and EQC to work more closely together and provide a more streamlined process for customers, as the number of remaining Canterbury earthquake claims continues to decline.

“Southern Response has now settled over 99% of its entire claims portfolio, which is over 48,000 claims, and we anticipate only around 300 claims will remain by the end of this year. We want to ensure that all remaining Canterbury earthquake customers are well-served right through until final settlement of all claims, and we believe that bringing all of the remaining Crown claims into the one agency is the best way of doing that.

“These agencies have been working closely together on claims since we signed a Memorandum of Understanding in early 2017 allowing Southern Response to act as EQC’s agent on some claims. Therefore we have confidence that this will be a smooth transition with little disruption to our customers. Customers’ insurance entitlements do not change in any way, and Southern Response retains the ultimate responsibility for the payment of those entitlements,” Mr Honeybone said.

Southern Response Chair Alister James also announced that Mr Honeybone will step aside as CEO on 20 December 2019 when the transition takes effect.

“Like many current Southern Response staff, Mr Honeybone’s contract goes through until 20 December, and he has declined to continue leading the ongoing Southern Response entity post-transition.  Anthony has done an outstanding job of leading this organisation and, while we will be sad to see him go, we fully understand his reasons for that. We are grateful for the huge amount of work he has undertaken and overseen as CEO since September 2017, and as Southern Response's General Manager of Claims Settlement prior to that.

“We are pleased to announce that our General Manager of Legal and Strategy, Casey Hurren, will be appointed as Company General Manager from 21 December 2019 to lead the ongoing Southern Response entity through the initial transition phase. We are confident that Casey has the appropriate skills and experience to lead the organisation through the next phase, particularly given the primary focus of the organisation will be resolving legal issues and adhering to ongoing financial and reporting obligations,” Mr James said.

Mr Honeybone said the focus for Southern Response staff through to the December transition would remain firmly on assisting customers to settle their outstanding claims: “We know that there is still work to be done so our staff will be working as hard as ever, alongside EQC, towards enduring settlements for all Crown claims.”