Rich lister and self-appointed insurance watchdog Evan Christian has been flooded with responses from everyday Kiwis after going public with his own insurance nightmare.

Takapuna couple Evan Christian and Katherine Allsopp-Smith had been locked in a year-long stand-off with IAG-owned NZI Insurance over repairs to their beachfront home.

Since sharing their story the couple say they are close to reaching an agreement with the company - but have also been contacted by dozens of people in a similar situation.

"Some of the stories are heartbreaking," Christian said.


"We were half expecting this but the number of people who have been in contact is overwhelming.

"It has reinforced to us that something needs to change with the insurance process and the repairs people have to accept."

The couple had heard from families living in repaired homes that were still smoke-damaged and mouldy, others who had suffered serious health issues and many still waiting for repairs.

"We have spoken to one family who have been staying on friends' couches for four years because they can't live in their house," Christian said.

"We haven't had to couch surf but we don't want to see others having to do that, we want to see all repairs done safely and properly."

Allsopp-Smith "couldn't keep up" with the number of people who had been in contact and had started a reference file of inadequate repairs.

Since going public Christian had been contacted by NZI and this week a company representative had visited the home "for the first time since the fire".

"They were very apologetic and said they were under the impression from their assessors there was no damage to the lower level of the house."


Christian said their claim with NZI was moving forward with both sides wanting to see it settled.

Christian, who made his fortune as the former chairman of tech business Advantage Group, and as the director of various investment companies, opposed NZI's change in the scope of repairs.

It was initially agreed that all walls and wiring would be replaced but the scope changed to replacing some damaged areas and treating others with controversial ozone generators.

The family had independent tests done which confirmed contamination throughout the house.

"If something is damaged by soot it needs to be removed, it is a known carcinogen," Christian said.

The ozone generators, which are banned in some American states, rely on a chemical reaction to sanitise odour, rather than removing the soot.

Ozone gas can reportedly cause health problems, including respiratory tract irritation and breathing difficulty.

The family 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.

Smoke detectors alerted the family and they escaped the fire but lost all their possessions.

The home was extensively damaged by fire, smoke and 36,000 litres of water the fire service had to use to put the blaze out.

Despite progress with his own claim Christian said the fight with the insurance process was far from over.

Evan Christian outside the fire-damaged home with his children Bohdi, 3, and Pearce, 4, and Honey the dog. Photo / Chris Loufte
Evan Christian outside the fire-damaged home with his children Bohdi, 3, and Pearce, 4, and Honey the dog. Photo / Chris Loufte

He was getting legal advice to ensure other claimants in similar situations were treated fairly.

And the family wanted the use of ozone treatment to stop.

"We understand companies use it because it is cheap but it is the new asbestos," he said.

"It should not be used at all because causes serious health issues and
no one can prove it is safe."

The $20m home before the fire. Photo / Supplied
The $20m home before the fire. Photo / Supplied

A spokesman from NZI said the meeting with Evan Christian and Katherine Allsopp-Smith had been "positive."

"We appreciate their time on this, as we collectively continue to work towards a solution."

With regard to the use of Ozone treatment NZI said:

"We appreciate their concern about fire remediation methods used in New Zealand.

"Customer safety is always our primary consideration and we will raise their concerns with the insurance industry as a whole. "

"NZI is committed to settling this claim in line with the policy as soon as is possible, so Mr Christian and Ms Allsopp-Smith can move forward."