Broker urges better catastrophe communication

Broker communication

The insurance industry has made great strides in dealing with the aftermath but more needs to be done to improve communication with brokers, the NIBA Convention has heard.

On Monday afternoon, Gary Young, John Devaney, Allan Manning and Campbell Fuller joined together to examine the state of the industry’s response to catastrophe claims.

The Fallout from a Claims Catastrophe session attracted a packed audience, which heard how the insurance industry was trying to improve its disaster response efforts.

“In the Blue Mountains bushfires last year, we had assessors in place while the fires were still burning,” Fuller says.

“The protocols we have in place are proving incredibly effective at getting the claims process started more quickly.”

Fuller also spoke about efforts to more proactively manage the media coverage of the insurance side of disasters.

“For Ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald, I did 140 interviews in four weeks and what we are seeing from the media, with a few exceptions, is a greater understanding of how the industry operates,” Fuller says.

However, Devaney said there was still room to improve how insurers communicate with brokers.

“I can’t recall the last time, with the exception of QBE, that we had a group of insurers come to us pre-cyclone season and say: ‘This is how we will manage the claims and here is the manual for how to get claims off as quickly as possible’.”

“There’s still that puzzle palace for what the dynamic of the claims process will be.

“Uniform preliminary loss advice would be a brilliant step.”

Devaney also called on governments across northern Australia to proceed with insurance tax reform to help counter rising levels of unaffordability.

Allan Manning says the way Australia’s terrorism levy is structured is exacerbating the problem as well.

“In the UK, it is based on sum insured but here it is a percentage of the premium so as the premiums have skyrocketed in northern Australia the terrorism levy has gone up,” he says.

“Now the Federal Government has taken $400 million out of that levy and that is just wrong and something that should be addressed.”

Fuller says numerous government reports have recommended insurance tax reform but that it needs to be for the whole country.

“I would advocate that tax reform for northern Australia is a first step towards tax relief for all Australians,” he says.