Hot Stuff

Here at FT Adjusting, we like to pay particular attention to building regulations. We are, after all, a company that specialises in claims arising from construction and engineering. That’s why, as I was flicking through the latest issue of Insurance News Magazine, I was interested to see an article about bushfire building regulations and an in-depth exploration of hot tips for bushfire preparation and safety.

According to the article, bushfire regulations don’t always cover everything. Justin Leonard is the research leader for CSIRO’s Bushfire Urban Design. His latest investigation was into the damaged houses in the 2015 Christmas Day bushfires along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. Both regulation-adhering houses and non-regulation adhering houses were damaged in the blaze. This included homes that were built to withstand any bushfire in accordance with standards introduced in 2010. His burning question was; why did these properties still burn down?

bushfire

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Well, Leonard argues that small but important details can be overlooked in bushfire preparation, and these details aren’t included in building regulations. Here’s some of the most important things homeowners should pay attention to in fire preparation, according to Leonard.

Hot Tips:

  • Make sure you do not store combustible materials, for example, heavy fuel, under or adjacent to your home. Many homes are not capable of withstanding heat from these fuels.
  • Use non-combustible water tanks.
  • Place large, fuel-heavy items such as boats and cars at least six meters from your home.
  • Remove flammable materials and vegetation surrounding the house.

These are just a few tips to make your home a whole lot safer in the event of a bushfire. It can even be as simple as understanding where the risks are in your home. After all, we may not be able to control the weather, but we are able to make changes to the way we prepare for environmental events. You can read the full article by Bernice Han in the April/May issue of Insurance News (The Magazine).

Words by Skye Jamieson

Jargon Gone

As someone with experience in signing difficult to read contracts, I can confidently say that there’s no greater fear of mine. Living in Germany, you are constantly handed loaded banking agreements and rental contracts, and understanding even half of what they are saying is no easy feat. Plus, you kind of feel like you’re put on the spot. To read and translate an entire contract would take days. Sometimes I wondered whether I was signing over my first born child to Deutsche Bank. Who knows, really? In between the mountain of technical German and oodles of fine print, I didn’t stand a chance.

So you can understand why I might have been happy reading a report from Insurance Business which has slammed insurance companies for their complex and unfair contracts. It’s customers who sometimes suffer the consequences of complex jargon as some insurance companies hide behind intricate disclosure statements.

Contracts

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The home, strata and car insurance industries were called out by the Consumer Action Law Centre, who said that “insurance policies are riddled with terms which, on their face, could be unlawful if unfair contract terms laws applied to insurance.” An inquiry was made before the Senate urging insurance companies to come up with standardised definitions, so that customers across multiple fields are able to understand what’s going on in the fine print.

You can rest assured that there will soon be some changes in the way insurance industries communicate with customers. After all, reading through complex jargon and technical waffle can almost be like hearing someone talk underwater. It may as well be in German.

 

Words by Skye Jamieson

Heated Debate

Humans are a funny bunch. Sometimes we can all get along. Most of the time, we just agree to disagree. I’d wager that the majority of conflicts in human history can be attributed to disagreements that have gotten out of hand. Whether it was stealing fire, land or a coat of many colours…the list is endless.

So it’s really quite a rare occurrence when politicians, insurers and consumer leaders can unanimously agree on an issue.  Especially when that issue is related to taxes. It was Benjamin Franklin who once said there were only two things certain in life: death and taxes. After reading a report from Insurance News, I’m not so certain they’re a certainty anymore.

The report announces the news that insurers, politicians and consumer leaders have all agreed that taxes on insurance are inefficient and can contribute to underinsurance. Almost all Australian states and territories have agreed to abandon levies on insurance policies to finance their individual fire services.

Fire

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So why the sudden change? After a recommendation from the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires royal commission, Victoria made the switch to a more efficient system way back in 2013. It’s argued that emergency services are vital, and should be shouldered by the entire community.  It’s also said that our fire and emergency services are such an essential part of our infrastructure that shouldn’t be placed solely upon those who take out insurance. According to the report, as the last mainland state to use a levy, New South Wales will switch to a charge on property rates on July 1st. Hopefully the switch will lead to a more efficient system for the financing of our fire and emergency services.

Of course, there’s still one state that is yet to make the switch and abandon taxes on insurance. That’s Tasmania. For the time being, Tassie, we can just agree to disagree.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Trial and Terror

You may have noticed that most of the blogs published here are generally light hearted. In the breakdown of a typical blog post it would usually go something like this: ten per cent puns, ten per cent actually useful information, and eighty per cent mindless jabbering. Well, I’m about to break my lucky streak here as we enter the realms of a pretty serious topic – terrorism.

Here’s where we get technical. Terrorism, as it turns out, is very significantly related to the insurance industry these days. Let’s start at the beginning, a very good place to start. The Australian Reinsurance Pool Corporation (ARPC) is a public financial corporation established by the Terrorism Insurance Act of 2003. According to the Australian Government, one of its jobs is to administer insurance schemes for commercial property and associated business interruption losses airing from a declared terrorist incident.

So here’s the gist of it. Through the ARPC, in the event of a terrorism incident, eligible Australian properties can be covered for loss or damage and associated business interruption.  This includes buildings or other structures on the land. Still with me?

terrorism

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Well it’s been reported by Insurance News this week that the ARPC has been expanded to include mixed-use and high-value residential buildings. The definition of ‘eligible property’ has been widened to include buildings with at least 20% commercial floor space, or that have a building sum insured of at least $50 million. The Terrorism Insurance Act has also been amended to remove doubts over coverage for chemical or biological attacks.

The ARPC Chief Underwriting Officer believes that the recent expansions will ‘modernise scheme coverage, underpin its financial strength, and ensure the ARPC is better equipped to protect Australia from the economic losses caused by terrorism catastrophe.’ Phew. If you’re still reading this, then congratulations, you’ve made it to then end. And on second thoughts, this blog had a whole lot more mindless jabbering than I’d originally intended.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Good As Gold

Another day, another stock image of a man in a suit wanting to shake hands. But what better way to illustrate the news that a new partnership in the insurance industry has been announced! A wise fellow once said, ‘Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.’ And as someone who knows a lot about Friends – I own all 10 seasons – I can tell you that business friendships can be more like steel than the malleable metals mentioned above.

On that note, it’s exciting times ahead. Global firm Allianz and motor specialist Dawes Underwriting Australia have teamed up for all things insurance.

Partnership

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According to Insurance Business, Allianz will become the new underwriter of Dawes motor insurance products from May 1st 2017. This will include a portfolio of exotic and prestige vehicle products for Dawes under a new underwriting agency agreement. Dawes Underwriting Australia is part of Steadfast Underwriting Agencies, whose CEO is of the belief that under the new partnership ‘the continued focus of Dawes providing exemplary service and innovative solutions to brokers, backed by Allianz’s capital strength, is a dynamic combination that will benefit the Australian broker market.’

So how does Allianz feel about this budding new friendship? Well, Allianz Australia chief general manager David Hosking, has said that he believes the deal will further strengthen ties between the two firms. And how do I feel about the new partnership? Well, like my good friend Joey would say, ‘It’s like a cow’s opinion. It just doesn’t matter. It’s moo.’

Words by Skye Jamieson

Claim Changer

It’s been a bit of a hectic week around the FT Adjusting office. It’s not all Tim Tams and pizza parties. I’ve been learning new skills and tackling insurance claim after insurance claim like never before.  And I’m not going to lie to you; some of the processes involved can be downright complicated even at the best of times. I’ve got plenty of numbers to crunch and even more steps to memorise. For a newbie it can be overwhelming, to say the least.

Claim

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Which is why I was pretty interested to see an article from Insurance Business saying that a ‘world first’ insurance claims platform is about to revolutionise the insurance industry. It’s called ClaimLogik, and it’s a platform that has been launched to help brokers, insurers and policyholders alike. According to the chief executive of ClaimLogik, it’s going to be out with the old and in with the new because “the 150-year-old claim service model was never designed with the customer in mind.”

Now, users will be able to connect with a supply chain of resources (such as assessors – that’s where we come in!) in a logical sequence of claim activity.

What’s more, the platform promises to improve efficiency and customer experience. How? With the included ability to created automated assessment report templates and even set up emergency assistance notifications for trades to help reduce costs. It’s all about using data and information in a smart way.

What a relief! ClaimLogik, you sound like a dream come true. So if they could just get that system in before next week, I’d be one happy camper.

Words by Skye Jamieson

The Word Degree

Words, words, words. Strange things, aren’t they. These days we’ve got keywords, buzzwords, catchwords and passwords. Too many words and things can quickly turn into a jumble of chaos and confusion. Here at FT Adjusting we are no strangers to the dangers of excess words. Stopping for a quick chat by the communal Tim Tam jar is a risky game to play in the office when it can turn into a deep conversation about the thrills and adventures of loss adjusting.

Too few words, however, and we don’t often get the whole picture. Important details can be left out and crucial information can be lost in translation. For loss adjusters, words can be one of the deciding factors in the business of insurance.

Words

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Which is why we all got very excited about a special report this week which holds interesting predictions for the insurance industry. According to Insurance Business, insurers ranked the most used word or phrase of the year – and the results were startling. Well, ok, not that startling. According to a Best Special Report, both cyber risk and cyber security were the most commonly used word or phrase, as selected by roughly one third of respondents. And it’s no surprise that with an increase in cyber breaches in our offices cyber risk and cyber security have become the new insurance industry buzzwords.

The study also discovered the insurer’s opinions on current issues, market dynamics and trends. It found that 56.2% of respondents felt optimistic about the economy and saw improvement on the horizon, up from a depressingly low 7.9% from 2016. We’re just glad things are looking up for the rest of 2017. Word.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation

Millennials are an elusive and enigmatic breed. You may have seen some in their natural habitat around The Grounds of Alexandria or pouting behind a selfie stick. But what do we really know about Millennials? For one, they seem to have an unhealthy obsession with smashed avocado, hipster cafes and anything made with soy. They also have a puzzling reluctance to enter the Sydney housing market. Ahh, nothing like a bit of generational scorn to get you through to the weekend…

This blogger is, admittedly, a Millennial through and through. Aside from the crushing student loan debts and crippling realisation that I may never own my own home, I can say that it definitely felt good to have a shelf full of participation trophies as a kid. But that’s not all folks. Apparently Millennials are predicted to have a greater impact on the insurance world than previously thought.

Millennials

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According to a report from Insurance News, Millennials will have a fundamental impact on product development in the insurtech (insurance technology) landscape. But how? I hear you ask. Well, it’s related to the ‘always online’ tendencies of Millennials and the expected change in consumer demands.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission warned that ‘not all the consequences of fast-moving technologies and digital disruption are positive for the people it aims to protect’. This makes the rise of insurtech a virtual inevitability. According to the report, technological innovations such as artificial intelligence, peer-to-peer insurance and robo-advice are likely to result in dramatic changes in the nature and type of risks covered. Changes in the relationship between insurers and policyholders will also likely occur.

Millennials are rarely seen without a phone in hand or internet enabled device within reach. As technology increasingly governs our lives, there may also be ‘issues concerning the use, ownership and protection of data.’

You heard it here first, baby boomers: although we may never own property or appreciate the value of hard work, we know you’ll be looking to us for tech advice pretty soon.  At least in the insurance world that is.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Life Is A Highway

In 1965, The Beatles sung ‘Baby you can drive my car / And maybe I’ll love you’. With the windows down, the wind in your hair and the tunes at your control, I guess it’s easy to fall in love while someone else is dealing with those erratic Sydney drivers. And who doesn’t like riding shotgun?

Well, with the pedal to the metal in the technological development of driverless cars, any of our readers who are die hard romantics will be happy to hear that love is in the air – at least according to The Beatles. With the transition to semi and fully automated cars, our current driving experiences might just come to screeching halt.

Driverless Cars

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And what’s more, according to a recent story from Insurance News, we will see the shifting of liability from the driver to the manufacturer and the traditional risk pool dwindling, with the accelerated introduction of driverless cars. If insurers adapt and take advantage of the radical new landscape, says the report, the transition could create new opportunities as insurers are forced to diversify and look for other sources of profit.

The report indicates that these changes could be seen in Australia soon if we follow the bumper of our friends in the UK, as the UK Government announced in January it will extend compulsory vehicle insurance cover to driverless cars. Buckle up, readers, because in the move that ‘will revolutionise motor insurance’, insurers will be ‘liable to pay compensation to third-party victims as well as to the insured driver if a crash is caused by technology failure.’

Wheel, it might be time to hit the brakes on this post. These car puns are getting utterly exhausting.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Wild, Wild Weather

Adele may have set fire to the rain over the weekend, but as Sydneysiders, we’re no strangers to erratic weather. In fact, we can be pretty nonchalant. Extreme weather warnings pop up these days as frequently as the game invitations that one distant relative constantly sends you on Facebook. But the damage report from a recent weather event has certainly taken us all by storm.

After the hailstorm that battered parts of Sydney last month, the bill has finally arrived at the table – and it’s a doozy. Insurance News reports that the insurance bill has passed $350 million, according to the latest figures from IAG and Suncorp. The hail pummelled vehicles and homes in parts of Sydney and the Illawarra region on February 18, resulting in an influx of insurance claims. The Insurance Council of Australia says 48,000 claims have been received, with 38% of claims for damage to motor vehicles, while roofs and incidental contents claims account for the rest.

Storm

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And, according to some sources, the wild weather shows no signs of slowing down. Insurance news has reported that the likelihood of an El Nino climate event has significantly increased due to warmer ocean temperatures.  The El Nino repercussions could impact the whole of Australia, with warmer than average maximum temperatures, raised bushfire risks and a greater chance of frost. So while we should definitely brace ourselves for more wild weather, there are high chances that we’ll still be here at the FT Adjusting office – rain, hail or shine.

Words by Skye Jamieson