New Zealand Earthquake - Update

28 Feb 11

Following the tragic events in Christchurch last week, below is a brief update as we enter the week:

New instructions
New instructions are being received in our Auckland office. Our triage team are contacting clients to assess the urgency of their needs. This is difficult and emotional work as we have little that we can tell clients about inspection dates at the moment. We'll be getting EAP to talk with our triage team to discuss how to best deal with distressed clients.

Field inspections
These went ahead on Thursday and Friday - mainly claims that we had received and not inspected from the first event. These claims were mainlyt he small claims. We don't have any feedback at this stage around exacerbation of damage from the latest aftershock.

New Claims
As at Sunday evening we had received 595 new claims, however, this is expcted to clbim quickly during the new week. The number so far are a little deceptive. We anticipate that most of the commercial claims that we're handling will have a further loss and many of these have yet to be advised. Up to 50% of the claims received so far are paired with claims from the earlier event. We're pairing claims when we identify them and getting the same adjuster to work on them where possilbe. This is made difficult by the fact that many of the claims were handled by international adjusters who have returned to their country.

How you can help us
We've already had some claims staff promising that the adjusters will visit people within 24 hours. This is usually a physical impossibility as they're often in a restricted zone.  We don't have the field force ont he ground at the moment to fulfill these unwise promises. Our triage teams are doing their best to contact clients by phone within 24-48 hours, but inspections will be much later.

You can assist us by:

  • briefing your claims people of the situation in Christchurch and asking them not o make undertakings on behalf of the assessors
  • resisting pressure from brokers to get their clients given priority. Remember that they're simply displacing the entitlements of another one of your clients. Our triage team will attempt to prioritise claims after they've talked with the claimant and assessed the urgency of their claim
  • Advise your claims team that service will be slower throughout New Zealand. We've been getting some claims staff complaining that reports aren't to them in the usual time frame where the loss is outside the disaster areas. Our resources are stretched throughout New Zealand.

Offices
Our Christchurch office - the branch and disaster office - are in damaged buildings within the cordon. We've leased offices in an office complex in Addington and will be operating from there as of Tuesday. We won't have a switchboard in the office and our Chirstchurch office phones will be answered in Auckland and calls patched through to cell phones.

Local resources
As we've been advising you, existing resources have been stretched by the original eathquake, the tropical storms and business as usual. We now add to our local adjusters' loads the second losses relating to most of their earthquake claims. This mean that our local network will quickly be at over capacity. We will provide youw ith ongoing information about our ability to respond to business as usual claims around the country from time to time.

If you adjusters travel to Christchurch and their normal local work is sent to our office this will further restrict our ability to respond in a timely mannger. If you're taking this action, please keep us informed and we will restrict our flow of staff to the Christchurch area.

Sergon
Our Sergon team is being increased and will initially be committed to several large claims that have a multiplicity of sites requiring inspection. As they come free they will scope and cost damage under the direction of an adjuster. We anticipate having 30-40 Sergon contractors in the field under the management of one of our senior members.

International resources
As you can image we've been working hard to see what resources we can access from our international network. The situation that we find ourselves in is made more difficult by the fact that we've received many thousands of cyclone claims in Queensland and our Australian network isn't available to us. They've imported 50 adjusters from the USA to assist their efforts.

The international adjusting resource is more expensive than insurers are used to paying for a local adjuster. This is largely due to the difference in the exchange rate. Their airfares, cars, accommodation and daily allowances on top of this cost and would be included in the hourly Catastrophe surcharge that we will continue to add to files.

At this early stage we believe that we may be able to add a further 40-50 adjusters to our field force from our international networks. Up to 20 of these may be from the UK and Cunningham Lindsey International.

These adjusters will need to have their work reviewed by a senior adjuster to ensure that consistency and standards are maintained.

International units
Lisa Manks is leading the two international units that we're operating. These are for claims handled by the international adjusters who've returned to their countries. Commercial claims are bieng handled inAuckland. Domestic claims are being handled in Hamilton. Clients have an 0800 contact number that they can call us on as we progress their claim.

These units have been working well and will continue as we deal with the latest event.

Business interruption unit
Gillian Gregory is leading a team of around ten business interruption adjusters who have made excellent progress in dealing with the many business interruption claims form the first event. We will be increasing our capacity again to handle the influx of new claims that we're expecting.

OSH
We're focussing on keeping our team healthy and safe. EAP are being promoted actively to our staff. We've also instructed our people that they can't enter any property or areas that haven't been cleared by the appropriate authorities.

Summary
We - like you - are tired and shocked by this latest event. We're determined to continue to strive to provide you with the professional service that you expect from Cunningham Lindsey - although timeliness will not be at the usual standard.

You need to help direct us as to how you would like us to best use our resources on your behalf.

Martyn Norrie
Chief Executive Officer

 

 

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