Owners of $20m beachfront home extensively damaged by fire want stricter insurance regulations and said they would be living in a contaminated "patched-up" property if their insurer had its way.

Takapuna couple Evan Christian and Katherine Allsopp-Smith are still in dispute with IAG owned NZI Insurance almost a year after fire destroyed part of their luxury home on Takapuna beach.

Repairs still haven't started at the house because the couple, with three young children, said they would be left with soot contaminated walls and a water damaged home if they accepted NZI's scope of repairs.

They are prepared to take the Australian owned company to court to expose what they said are "delay, deny and defend" tactics used to maximise profits.


The pair are so passionate about the cause they have been in contact with owners of other fire damaged homes to make sure they are getting the right support and advice.

"This is not about the money and it's not about us anymore. It's about making the insurance industry fair for all New Zealanders," Evan Christian said.

"Since the fire, we have spoken to so many families who have had to accept cheap and toxic repairs because they can't afford to fight.

The couple have spoken to dozens of people who have accepted repairs only to find the house is still affected by soot, a known carcinogen, mould and odour years later.

The couple had less than three years in their newly built "dream home" when fire broke out in the garage in May 2018 as the family slept.

The fire was caused by an electric scooter in charge in the garage of the Takapuna home. Photo / supplied
The fire was caused by an electric scooter in charge in the garage of the Takapuna home. Photo / supplied

Alerted by smoke alarms the family, including Branson, 6, Pearce, 4 and Bodhi, 3, and live-in nanny Dana Banks, all escaped the fire but their cat Snowy died, despite attempts to resuscitate him at the scene.

The family lost everything in the fire and the home was extensively damaged by either fire, smoke or about 36,000 litres of water the fire service had to use to put the blaze out.

The fire was believed to have been started by the charging battery of an e-scooter.


The couple thought they would be looked after by their insurance company and the home would be repaired to an "as new" condition as their policy stated.

But instead, the couple said NZI wanted to treat their home with the controversial treatment Ozone, which relies on a chemical reaction to sanitise odour, rather than removing the soot.

"We have had independent tests done which show contamination in every room at different points in the walls and insulation," Allsopp-Smith said.

"The pressure of the fire pushed soot throughout the house."

In the first meeting Christian said NZI representatives agreed to remove and replace all wiring, flooring and GIB.

"But then, when they had it priced they reneged."

Evan Christian stands outside his children's bedroom a year after the fire. Photo / Chris Loufte
Evan Christian stands outside his children's bedroom a year after the fire. Photo / Chris Loufte

Allsopp-Smith said the assessors aimed to shoehorn the repairs into a budget instead of honouring the "as new" agreement of the policy.

The pair want to see more robust regulations in the insurance industry and said they are willing to go to court to reveal a lack of standards that they say leave thousands of New Zealanders at risk each year.

The family want to see public adjusters, who negotiate on behalf of insured, appointed in the New Zealand system.

The family also want to see what they call a toxic and outdated method of masking the smell of soot banned and are researching bringing in overseas experts to explain the science in court.

Ozone or fogging treatment is banned in many countries but used in New Zealand as a cheap way to repair a home. Christian noted that in NZI's own commissioned report into the fire the treatment was not recommended "unless their use can be proven to be safe".

In a statement to the Weekend Herald, an NZI spokesman said the company wanted to settle Evan Christian's claim "as quickly and appropriately as possible while at the same time ensuring the job is done properly".

"NZI will be continuing discussions with Evan and his broker, including awaiting further information from the assessors.

"We will continue to work closely with Evan and his broker to settle this claim appropriately."

The spokesperson said Christian's policy provided cover for sudden and accidental loss, up to the home's sum insured total of $4,536,888.00 (including GST).

"It's important to note that there is a consensus across all parties that there is a significant shortfall and that the home has been underinsured."

Tim Grafton, from the Insurance Council of New Zealand, said if a customer had an issue with a decision their insurer has made, they can raise it as a complaint with their claims manager or their insurer's internal disputes team.

"If an insurer cannot resolve a complaint within two months, a customer can ask for a letter of deadlock and take their complaint to the external disputes resolution scheme their insurer is registered with."