Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Resolving Insurance Issue for Multi-Unit Buildings: Lessons Learnt from the Canterbury and the Kaikoura Earthquakes

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posted on 2022-02-25, 01:35 authored by Emanuela Gabor

This thesis set out to investigate why it was difficult to resolve insurance claims for multi-unit buildings during the Canterbury (2010–2011) and the Kaikōura (2016) earthquakes. It found that the way multi-unit buildings are built gives rise to repair and decision dependencies. That means that sometimes units are not able to be repaired in isolation of each other; and where repair dependencies are triggered, owners need to make common decisions on how the property is reinstated. The problem is that not all types of multi-unit buildings have the infrastructure to recognise the repair dependencies or the governance structure to facilitate common decision-making. This leads to civil disputes between owners, which in turn create difficulties with progressing insurance claims, and even prevent repair of the properties.

While the thesis is concerned with insurance and finding better ways to resolve insurance claims for multi-unit buildings, the evidence is that this cannot be achieved without changes to the area of property law. Therefore, the thesis makes major recommendations in relation to how multi-units are built, managed, and regulated. The guiding principle is that multi-unit buildings are communities, and they must be recognised as such. In addition, the thesis suggests changes to the way insurance companies manage claims for multi-unit buildings.

At the heart of the study is a broad empirical research into the Canterbury and the Kaikōura earthquakes. This includes extensive interviews, online surveys, and discussions with representatives of the insurance industry, government departments, lawyers, and homeowners.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

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Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Law


Austin, Graeme; Marten, Bevan