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

Facing the Storm

At FT Adjusting, we specialise in construction and engineering claims. These can come in all shapes and forms – contract works, public and products liability or professional indemnity claims. So it’s easy to get caught up in the logistical aspects of natural disasters and storm damage. Three months on from Cyclone Debbie, the financial cost of the damage is estimated to reach into the billions.

But while the financial damage may have been accounted for, the emotional impact of Cyclone Debbie may be far from over. In a report from ABC News, the medium to long-term emotional impacts of the natural disaster could be long lasting. After the initial adrenaline rush of coping with the immediate damage from the cyclone, many residents could be experiencing a second disaster.

cyclone

Image: pexels.com

The psychological impacts of a natural disaster can often be overlooked. According to community recovery psychologist Rob Gordon, problems include memory and concentration issues and difficulty delegating and organising tasks. These can occur in the months and even years following a disaster. He also says that it’s wrong to assume that cyclone victims are on the home stretch now.

Looking at the scope of the damage of Cyclone Debbie, it’s not hard to imagine why. The storm left thousands of families without homes and destroyed hundreds of businesses. If it’s not properly addressed, the emotional fallout could be on a larger scale than previously imagined. According to the article, recovery sessions will be held in town halls and cyclone-affected schools, and will introduce a framework residents can work through to help them cope with moving forward.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Don’t Look Back

For those who work sitting at desk all day, you’ll know that your body can become pretty sore pretty quickly. You begin to really appreciate the little things in the office. The extra five paces you get to walk to the coffee machine. The feel of the ergonomic office chair against your back (if you’re one of the lucky ones to get one).

Sitting for multiple hours at a time can lead to some very stiff joints. So it’s important to try and keep active while you’re in the office. Our office manager, Lesley, even had the printer moved further away from her office door in order to increase her step count for the day.

back

Image: pexels.com

But according to a report from Insurance News in their June / July magazine issue, there’s another (albeit costlier) solution. Staff at an Allianz call centre in Queensland have been treated to two hundred new sit-and-stand electric desks. The desks allow employees to sit, stand or even exercise while working, and the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. According to the article, feedback indicates that 55 per cent of the staff felt more energised and 64 per cent felt more focused. What’s more, many employees reported less back pain.

But this solution doesn’t come cheap. The price tag for the new furniture came in at a whopping $220, 600. Whelp. Allianz Group believes it’s money well spent – and based on the feedback, I feel inclined to agree. But for now, we’ll just keep edging the printer further and further away for our maximum worker wellbeing.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Happy EOFY!

It’s everyone’s favourite time of year again – End of Financial Year! EOFY can be a busy time, especially for small businesses. You don’t need to tell that to our wonderful office manager, Lesley, who has been run off her feet chasing up late invoices and making endless trips to the printer. EOFY means it’s almost halfway through the calendrical year. And speaking of calendrical events, there’s a particularly magic milestone that has just passed – the twentieth anniversary of the Harry Potter books hitting the shelves, and our hearts. I’m not crying, there’s just something in my eye – like a twig, you know, or a branch.

Anyway, back to insurance. EOFY is busy, but it’s also a very busy time for some of our biggest insurance friends. According to the latest reports from Insurance Business, Australian insurance giant Suncorp has increased its bid to take over the New Zealand based firm Tower Insurance. But the race isn’t over just yet. Suncorp is bidding against the global firm Fairfax for ownership of Tower. So far there’s been no response in the form of a bid from Fairfax.

EOFY

Image: pexels.com

So why could this be such a major acquisition for Suncorp? According to the article, Suncorp New Zealand CEO, Paul Smeaton, says that Suncorp is looking to become bigger across the Tasman. He also says there’s a “strong strategic rationale” for the proposed takeover.  In a statement, Tower said that the board of directors was fully assessing the proposal with its advisors.

As the countdown begins to EOFY, and the new financial year is set in motion, we’ll be keeping a close eye on any developments. It’s a tight race, and there might just be a photo finish.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Chevy to the Levy

A few months (months!) ago, we explored in a blog the news that almost all Australian states and territories had agreed to abandon levies on insurance policies to finance emergency services in favour of a property-based charge. Now, this is a pretty hot topic. The Fire and Emergency Services Levy Act was supposed to come into effect on July 1st for New South Wales, as the last mainland state to use an insurance-linked levy.

However, according to a report from Insurance News, the New South Wales Parliament has passed legislation to reinstate the insurance-linked emergency services levy. This came after the Government suddenly backtracked from the move to a property-based charge last month. The legislation gives no indication of how long the insurance-based levy will stay. It no doubt came as a pretty big shock to the insurance industry.

levy

Image: pexels.com

So why the sudden back flip? Well, like most things, it has quite a lot to do with revenue. According to budget papers, the insurance-linked levy is expected to generate over $794 million in revenue. On the other hand, the deferral of the levy was estimated to reduce revenue by $894 million.

Now, I’m no mathematician by any means, but I can certainly crunch those numbers. Apparently so can New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian. But the decision also came after backlash from residential and commercial ratepayers who were worried about unfair hikes in bill payments. It’s a divisive issue, that’s for sure. And it seems like no matter the decision, someone is going to be in the firing line. Stay tuned for the finale of this one, friends.

Words by Skye Jamieson