West Auckland floods last August have left a couple unable to drive to their home and saying emergency services can't access their place.
Waitakere couple Jim Rafferty and Linda Storey can no longer drive to their home after a massive slip on a private driveway which washed away a 75m strip, creating an almost vertical 15m drop below.
Ambulances and fire units could no longer get to their home, which endangers their lives, Rafferty said.
They couldn't get a vet to their property to treat their dog who died in January.
"It's really upsetting. This is what has tipped Linda over the edge," Rafferty said of his partner who cries about the disaster.
They featured on Fair Go last night, shown carrying bags of food for hens and animals on to their property, walking down steep grassy slopes and using a set of temporary wood steps to get home.
The slip occurred on the private driveway which crosses the neighbour's land and runs between the couple's home and Wairere Rd.
"We have an easement over the neighbour's property so we can get from the road to our house," he said.
That had existed for about 30 years.
But last August, massive floods in the area resulted in part of that driveway collapsing and erosion beneath it.
"We've got a driveway that's 450m long and 75m of it was destroyed by a landslip that happened on the neighbour's property so we can't get to our house from the public road," Rafferty said.
Rafferty said insurers FMG had paid $60,000 as a settlement for the damage but no agreement had been reached.
The $60,000 would be only about 10 per cent of the total estimated cost of repairs even though he took out special natural disaster insurance, he said.
"The reason why this will cost so much is we've had a civil engineer look at other areas to build the driveway in, as well as a geotechnical engineer. But they both say the driveway can't be built elsewhere due to the neighbours' land potentially slipping.
"Because of slipping, the new driveway has to be built in such a way as to retain the neighbours' land," he said.
The greatest expense will be in engineering and creating a stable building platform to put the new driveway on - not just the cost of the driveway itself.
The insurer doesn't cover land but Rafferty said he wasn't asking for that but reinstatement of the driveway he needs to use.
The Earthquake Commission covers landslips but Rafferty said it would not cover this one.
"Because the driveway is not within 60m from our house, EQC won't cover the landslip. The part of the driveway where the slip occurred is about 250m from the house, hence it is not covered by EQC," he said.
A meeting is planned next month with FMG to discuss various options.
Auckland Council has issued a notice saying the couple cannot enter the property because of the flooding event, he said.
Five properties were "red-carded" as a result of the floods, Rafferty said.
The couple has, however, continued to live at the house.
A spokesman for EQC today confirmed that land more than 60m from a house was not covered under the law.
"Land within 60m of the house which forms the main access way is covered. Any artificial surface like asphalt or concrete is not covered," EQC says.
"EQ cover for land is limited to land that is within your property boundary and includes the land under your home and outbuildings, e.g. shed or garage, the land within 8m of your home and outbuildings, the land under or supporting your main accessway, up to 60 metres from your home but not the driveway surfacing," EQC says.
Andrew Ferguson of Shine Lawyers acts for the couple and said: "The policy is a reinstatement policy. The courts have found that this imposes an obligation on the insurer to pay the costs necessary to physically reinstate the damaged property to an 'as new' condition. The amount FMG has paid is less than 10 per cent of the cost to reinstate the accessway to Linda and Jim's property."
Insurers FMG said today: "We are working with the main parties involved with this claim to meet, however at this stage no date has been set."
The insurer empathises with the client's difficult situation and are continuing to support them by helping bring together all the relevant parties needed to find a resolution, FMG said.
"When assessing any claim, we need to be fair to all policyholders that we're working within the parameters of our policy wordings—and that's what we're doing in this case. Our client has a home policy which covers damage or loss to their home. Relevant to their case, it also includes cover for the damaged surface of their driveway.
"The policy does not cover land. No private insurer in New Zealand covers land—there is nothing unique about this," FMG stressed.
Insurance policies define what is covered, and to provide as much clarity as possible, items are specifically referred to in the wordings—rather than what isn't covered, it said.
"When we look at our client's situation, because the surface of our client's accessway is insured, their policy kicks in. Within three months of lodging their claim we paid approximately $60,000 which is the estimated cost to repair the damaged surface," the insurer said.
Land under their driveway, and on their neighbour's property, is not insured under FMG's house policy. Given this, there is no cover to reinstate the land, even if it needs repairing to rebuild the drive.
"A similar scenario would be a house fire, where contents' insurance would only cover the contents and not the reinstatement of the house to put the contents in," FMG said.
The only cover provided for land damage in New Zealand is through the Earthquake Commission and this was limited to the extent of cover set out in the EQC Act.
"Unfortunately, there is no cover under the EQC Act in this case because the damage to the neighbour's land is too far from the main property - more than 60m," FMG said.
It acknowledged the toll this issue was having on its client.
"Insurance can't cover all damage relating to the accessway but FMG feels the right thing to do is to continue our involvement. FMG's involvement is focused on trying to bring the three main parties together, and others if need be, to help find a collective resolution that will need to extend beyond insurance.
"This work is progressing—FMG remains at the table," the insurer said today.