Lawyer liable for no earthquake insurance


The High Court has decided in Witty v Rout [2016] NZHC 3016 that a lawyer is liable for failing to insure a house for earthquake damage as part of administering an estate.  Ms Hampson died on 15 September 2010 and probate was granted to Messrs Witty and Rout on 4 October 2010.  The insurance over the property came to an end in November 2010 as the premiums were not paid, so the property was uninsured when it was damaged in the 2011 earthquakes.  Mr Rout was sued in his capacity as executor and also as solicitor for the estate.  He was found liable in both capacities for $205,000 being the difference between the sale price of the damaged house ($175,000) and its repaired value ($380,000) together with wasted costs of $5205.95.