New Zealand Earthquake - Update

14 Mar 11

Our thoughts are with the people of Japan as they face significant damage and loss of life resulting from the massive earthquake on Friday. This is certainly an active time for the 'Ring of Fire'. We're well attuned to what the population of Japan are experiencing.

This is another update to let you know how we're handling the challenges of the Canterbury earthquakes.

The two and a half weeks since the February earthquake have been very busy ones for our team. We've re-established our Christchurch office and our Disaster branch. Our Christchurch office is largely focussing on business as usual.

We now have a significant team in the field. By the end of this week we anticipate that our resources committed to this event will include:

  • our local team - servicing major losses that have sustained further damage in the February aftershock
  • 40 loss adjusters brought in from South African, Canada and the USA. We've not been able to obtain adjusters from Australia as they're committed to their cyclone response
  • 45 Sergon Building Consultants - providing scopes and costings for some of our major claims - particularly in the residential areas
  • 14 financial/business interruption specialists (mostly qualified accountants) working in our business interruption unit in Auckland
  • 10 administration/data entry operators to assist with the registration of new claims
  • 15 customer service trained staff to assist with the triage calls to claimants to determine the priority of our response
  • 15 claims service officers working in our international units (Auckland for commercial claims and Hamilton for domestic claims) looking after files for international adjusters when they return home

Following the September event we received approximately 5,500 claims - many of them with multiple locations. Most of these were serious losses.

From what we've observed of the damage, losses are considerably greater after the February event. We're anticipating that we could receive between 8,000 and 10,000 serious claims. We've already received nearly 3,500 claims.

As you can imagine this is presenting a significant logistic challenge, particularly as we had to re-establish our office). We've staff working full time on recruiting logistics (accommodation, cars, travel, etc).

We're coping with the influx of new work and we're already recruiting another 20 international adjusters and more Sergon staff to handle the load.

We're taking up to 48 hours to contact claimants following receipt of claims from insurers. We can give no indication of the time that we'll take to get to clients although we will try and meet with Category 1 clients within a week of receiving their claim. Reporting will generally occur within a week following the inspection of the damage.

At this stage our ability to inspect many of the most serious losses is hampered by the restriction of the cordon. Clients have bene contacted. However, there's only so much that can be achieved without being able to see the extent of damage.

We're putting considerable resources into quality control and review of work to ensure that our recommendations will satisfy the scrutiny of both insurers and reinsurers. With so many additional staff from many different countries and disciplines this is a major task.

My observation is that we've all learnt from the previous major earthquake and we're implementing systems and processes which will enable us to respond well to the challenges presented by the influx of claims.

We have been touched by the many images of suffering and distress that have resulted from this event. I know that many of our people have made individual contributions to the appeals that have been launched. The Cunningham Lindsey Group has made a donation of $50,000 to the NZ Red Cross Appeal. I've had message from Philippe Bes, our Global Chief Executive Officer and from other members of our International Membership Leadership team expressing their concern about the situation in Christchurch.

Martyn Norrie
Chief Executive Officer

 

 

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