Wading Game

Leaks are something that we deal with daily here at FT Adjusting. Burst pipes, leaky drains and even exploded sewage systems – you name it, we’ve seen it. Leaks are a fact of life, especially during storm season.

But way across the ocean, there’s a different kind of storm brewing. Some New Zealand councils could soon find themselves in hot water for approving leaky buildings. An Auckland law firm is taking class action against councils that inspected or approved leaky or failed buildings within the last ten years, according to an article from Stuff.

According to Adina Thorn Lawyers, the aim is to help building owners who are living with leaks. And it’s an extensive time frame – it could be ten months, or ten years after the work was approved by the council.

Anyone who has had involvement with a council over the past ten years, or who is part of an existing claim, can register. This includes individuals, body corporates and commercial owners.

Leaks

Image: pixabay.com

In the world of construction and engineering insurance, this is massive news. According to building surveyor John Dalton, it’s common to find building work that’s not up to standard. Oh, if only the walls could talk, John.

‘Clearly the scale of the problem runs to hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars with many property owners naturally asking what value really attaches to a council consent, which is something that takes good money and often considerable effort to secure,’ Dalton told Stuff.

The action will be fully funded, so participants won’t have to pay a cent. But New Zealand councils could find themselves in the firing line quite soon. Nevertheless, the whole process might take some time. And we have no problem wading to see how the whole thing pans out.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Flushed Away

One of the most popular stories for Shakespearean tour guides is the supposed story behind one of the playwright’s most famous lines.

‘What’s in a name? that which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet’.

On the surface, it’s the musings of poor Juliet over the insignificance of a name.

But folklore has it that Shakespeare was also making a joke at the expense of a rival theatre, The Rose. The story goes that The Rose had a notorious sewage problem. Legend has it that Shakespeare was throwing some serious shade about its smell.

Sewage vs rose

Image: pexels.com

But not all things are grounded in folklore. There’s some real-life exciting news that just so happens to be sewage-related (hooray?).

According to Insurance Business, Allianz Worldwide Partners has forged a five-year partnership with Unitywater, a statutory authority that provides water and sewerage services.

The article says that Allianz will offer water-related insurance to Unitywater’s customers in the Moreton Bay, Sunshine Coast and Noosa areas. The cover will include concealed leak protection insurance and emergency home assistance, designed to protect homeowners against unexpected expenses. And the number one priority? Providing local residents with better assistance and insurance options.

That’s about enough toilet humour for today. On to a more serious note: what will this insurer think of the urban legends about alligators in the sewers? Don’t worry, Allianz – it’s a complete myth. Everyone knows you get crocodiles in northern Australia!

Drive My Car

We’ve come a long way since the early days of automobiles. Seat belts were non-existent. Airbags? Don’t even think about it. Not to mention the fact that windshields were just a great piece of plate glass, just like the glass used for house windows. We may as well have been driving Fred Flintstone’s car for all the safety they provided. This lack of safety led to an incredible number of accidents on our roads.

Of course, we know that safety features in cars developed dramatically over the years. But there are now calls for greater government action on road safety to reduce the cost of road trauma.

safety

Image: Pixabay.com

The RAA (Royal Automobile Association) and the AAA (Australian Automobile Association) have jointly called for action after a new report showed the extent of the cost of road trauma in Australia. The report found that costs mainly occur in the form of loss of life and wellbeing, vehicle damage and disability care.

All these costs add up. It’s estimated that that road crashes are costing the government $3.7 billion annually in lost taxation, income support and health and emergency services. And that’s a number that could be easily changed. It could all start with an improved national approach to road safety from both state and federal governments.

According to the RAA, the following steps could be taken by the Australian government to save lives on our roads:
  • Improve data collection to identify causes of death and injury on Australian roads.
  • Re-establish the National Office for Road Safety to support driver education.
  • Ensure emerging trends, such as mobile phone use, are understood.
  • Cut red tape to ensure Australians have access to safer cars.
  • Coordinate education programs.

For more information, you can read the summary of the Cost of Road Trauma in Australia report here, and read the AAA National Road Safety Platform here.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Change Makes Cents

Change can be an unexpected phenomenon. A wise man once said, ‘Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.’

That man was André Gide, French author and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1947.  Many times, change is for the best.

On that note, spring is well and truly in the air and so is the sweet, sweet smell of acquisition!

Change is inevitable, and it’s a part of life. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow. But in the case of acquisitions, change can be a very positive thing.

Change

Image: pexels.com

Insurance Business is reporting that the Hollard Insurance Company will acquire Calibre Insurance from Munich Holdings of Australasia.

According to the article, Calibre currently has policies underwritten by Munich Re, a subsidiary of Great Lakes Australia. From the 1st April 2018, their policies will be underwritten by Hollard.

This is pretty exciting news, especially for Calibre CEO Mike Hooton, who said that the acquisition of the business will provide investment and backing for the firm, and allow them to fulfil their ambitions in the SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) commercial insurance market.

But wait, there’s more! Insurance News is also reporting that the brokerage giant Aon has expanded its presence in North Queensland with a new acquisition.

Aon has recently acquired Mark Kelly Insurance and Financial Services which has offices located in Ayr, Townsville and Ingham. Aon hopes this will strengthen its position as the leading North Queensland broker.

It’s hoping to deliver tailored broking experience to the unique needs of its North Queensland clients. Their needs are usually different from the rest of Australia’s due to the relatively high risk of severe weather events.

That’s the thing about change – sometimes, it just makes cents.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Once Upon a Tower

There’s a story that’s been abuzz in the media as of late, particularly in the insurance world. It’s ringing a few bells here with fairy tales, fantasy and traditional folklore. There’s something about a tower, and a powerful entity keeping the tower out of reach. And of course, the story is set in New Zealand, which we all of course immediately associate with The Lord of the Rings trilogy (don’t we?).

But alas, it has nothing to do with the rolling hills of The Shire, or the fiery slopes of Mordor. But it is a thrilling tale with many twists and turns.

Since the beginning of the year, Suncorp’s Vero has been making increasing offers to buy New Zealand insurer Tower. It’s been a lengthy process of bidding and negotiating that the media has kept a close eye on.

Tower

Image: Wikipedia

But late last month, Insurance News reported that Vero’s application to acquire 100 per cent of the shares in Tower Limited had been rejected by the New Zealand Commerce Commission. The reason? The merger could substantially lessen competition in the personal insurance market. It would bring together the second and third largest insurers in New Zealand – leaving only two competitors. This could lead to high prices and lower quality insurance – which isn’t good for customers.

In a shock twist, however, Suncorp’s Vero has lodged an appeal with the New Zealand High Court over the decision. It’s going to be a dramatic climax as they battle it out in a final court challenge. It sure as hell makes for a good story. And while this story is far from a fairy tale, we’ll still be hoping for a happy ending.

Words by Skye Jamieson

The Higher They Climb

Loss adjusting – specialising in construction and engineering claims – is a niche area of expertise. Or, as we like to call it, ‘niche-pertise’. Construction and engineering is our forte (as is making up nonsensical words) and we pride ourselves on that.

Because it is such a niche area, it’s not often that the general public are able to see high profile examples in the media. Just recently, however, a construction incident occurred in Sydney’s south which became front page news.

The incident in question? A crane toppled and crashed into the units of an apartment block in Wolli Creek, injuring three people. Emergency services evacuated the building and a number of other apartment blocks in the area out of fear that the collapsed crane could shift. For this crane, it was a case of high climb, hard fall.

Crane

Image: pexels.com

Fire and Rescue NSW Superintendent Josh Turner told the Huffington Post that “work is being done to assess the damage the crane has caused in the first instance and what work can be done to secure the crane — our priority here is no further risks to persons on the site or surrounding the site.”

So, in terms of insurance, what happens next? Well from a loss adjusting perspective, it might be a lengthy process to determine exactly what caused the collapse. For the loss adjusters, it will involve a thorough investigation of the circumstances, one or more site visits and a whole lot of data and material analysis.

Loss adjusting is about finding out the who, what, where, when and how of the incident. This can also involve a lot of interviewing and communicating with people who are involved in the claim. In the end, it’s about finding the correct answer as quickly and efficiently as the situation will allow.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Kiwi Crush

The bonds between Australia and New Zealand are much like those between siblings. Anyone who’s travelled to either country will know that there’s a near-constant battle for the title of the superior nation. New Zealanders love their ‘fush and chups’, their Jandals and their sheep. We Aussies love endearingly shortening words to things like ‘arvo’ and ‘servo’.

From the dawn of time, Kiwis and Aussies have made fun of each other’s accents. One-upping has become a national pastime. And sporting rivalries have escalated into a maelstrom of simmering resentment.

Naturally, this writer is slightly biased.

New Zealand

Point New Zealand. Image: pexels.com

Australia and New Zealand have a lot of shared history together. Beneath the friendly banter and sledging about sport, there’s a strong familial love. We stand with one another in times of hardship. It’s always nice to check in once and a while. For starters, they may be gaining a new citizen – Barnaby Joyce.  But overall, it seems that New Zealand is still reeling from the storms and natural disasters that ravaged the country in recent months.

Storms that tore through parts of the South Island in July have resulted in tens of millions of dollars’ worth of damage, contributing to a US$10 billion damage bill for the Australia Pacific region, according to a report from Insurance Business. Thousands of New Zealand residents were evacuated, with emergency declarations made across five council areas. In addition, hundreds of homes and buildings suffered damage from the impact of the storm.

New Zealand is also still recovering from the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake. The Earthquake Commission revealed that sixty-two per cent of building claims have had their initial assessment completed. The report from Insurance Business says that the insurance focus had been on areas that were hardest hit – Marlborough, Kaikoura and Hurunui.

While New Zealand has had a rough couple of months, Australia will be standing right behind them. We’ve got a rivalry with our neighbours that will probably go on forever. Although we have our differences as countries, we’re both completely unique to anywhere else in the world.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Insurance Obsolete?

It’s the news that has the entire office talking. No, it’s not the fact that there’s only TWO Tim Tams left in the jar (although that topic has been a major talking point). It’s the news that was recently received, in article form, from Insurance Business. According to their sources, insurance could soon become obsolete.

I’ll give you a second to pick your jaw up off the floor. Believe us, the news was shocking to us as well. See, to a loss adjusting company, insurance is pretty important. You could even say it’s integral to our existence. So what exactly is the reasoning behind this alarming statement?

Obsolete

Image: pexels.com

According to Nick Spooner of PwC, insurtech is rapidly changing the insurance industry. So much so that he foresees a day where people’s lives are so safe – due to increased technology – that insurance won’t be necessary. It’s all do with the Internet of Things – smart, connected devices that can exchange data. A smart water heater, for example, could recognise a potential rupture before any damage occurs, meaning no need for a claim.

And while he could be right, we’re hoping that insurance won’t be rendered obsolete any time soon. The market for many types of insurance, including life and health insurance, remains strong. And after all, technology stands little chance against natural disasters such as floods, fires and cyclones. Our technology may be ‘smart’, but it’s certainly not smart enough to prevent unavoidable events. Insurance is necessary because the unexpected does happen and things do go wrong. And FT Adjusting loss adjusters will be there when it does.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Cladding Chaos

It’s happened – I’ve finally found an event related to construction and engineering insurance that’s worth writing a blog post about! It’s cause for celebration, because it’s not often that this happens. In fact, I can probably count the blogs on one hand. Construction and engineering is a niche area after all, especially for loss adjusting.

The topic, unfortunately, definitely doesn’t warrant the same level of enthusiasm. It’s all about cladding. For those who are unaware, it’s generally used to provide thermal insulation and weather resistance to buildings. It’s also sometimes used as a way of improving the outer appearance of buildings. After the recent Grenfell Tower disaster, Australian authorities have been auditing high-rise buildings to ensure any cladding used is fire-retardant.

Cladding

Image: pexels.com

According to an article from Insurance News, the auditing process has uncovered an offender – Brisbane’s major Princess Alexandra Hospital. The investigation process involved about eighty square meters of cladding being sent to a specialist testing facility in Victoria. The results? The cladding is combustible.

Now, combustible cladding covering any building is a scary thought, but a hospital is particularly alarming. The authorities insist the hospital is safe after following safety standards. But Fire Protection Association Australia CEO Scott Williams believes that the inquiry needs to look past the products and focus on “empowered regulators that are proactive and willing to act to ensure people and products come together to achieve compliant building outcomes.”

The audit will likely continue for some time, and each building that has its combustible cladding removed will make Australia a little bit safer. After all, you can’t put a price on safety.

Words by Skye Jamieson

What Goes Down, Must Come Up?

It’s an undisputed fact in the world of physics that what goes up must eventually come down. But the reverse isn’t always true – a burst helium balloon is unlikely to rise again, and optimistic gardeners are often disappointed when what goes down doesn’t come up.

In the world of insurance, however, things are looking up after the miserable years of the financial crisis. That is at least according to an article from Insurance News. In a detailed report from insurance giant Allianz, it’s predicted that insurance markets will once again come up. The paper examined the current status of the insurance market and outlook to 2027, where it will be worth an estimated $10.05 trillion globally.

crisis

Image: pexels.com

Alllianz Chief Economist Michael Heise believes that the global financial crisis pushed western European countries into “nine years of stagnation”. After a period of recent economic growth, he believes the long “lean spell” of the crisis is finally over.

Rather than a quick turnaround though, it’s suggested that market growth will be slow and steady. What’s more, there’s going to be a number of factors influencing the market. This includes China’s growing insurance market, digitalisation and new technologies such as artificial intelligence. With big change comes big opportunity. And much like those optimistic gardeners, we’ll be patiently waiting for our flowers to bloom.

Words by Skye Jamieson