The Christchurch Earthquakes and the Power of Mother Nature

After five earthquakes which shattered the lives and demolished the buildings of Christchurch New Zealand, Crawford GTS’ hardiest folk have literally worked around the clock. We talk to some of the adjusters on the ground who have worked to help this city get back on its feet.

“Seeing the damage, you realise just how powerful Mother Nature is and what it can do to any structure that we put up,” says Nigel Moore, GTS Director, as he reflects on the conditions Crawford GTS adjusters encountered when they first reached this isolated spot. “This is a substantial city and the people have been through a great deal; we have to be extremely sensitive because there is often a chance the person you are dealing with may have lost a friend or family member in one of the ‘quakes.”

The company’s presence in New Zealand has been part of the Crawford Catastrophe Consulting Programme. The business has a constant team of 10-15 adjusters working with its partners in the region, taking direct responsibility for 300 of the most complex claims, while assisting with reinsurance recoveries.

Nigel explains how with NZ being so remote, we have developed a number of approaches which ensure customers receive Crawford GTS’ undivided attention. “The dual adjuster system ensures that there’s an overlap of skills and expertise. Typically we have a six week on/off system because it’s important for the adjuster who has just arrived to be able to get up to speed by ‘shadowing’ his or her colleague who has been working on a case for the previous four weeks.”

One of the other logistical challenges has been working around international time zones. With clients often requiring updates and project review conference calls, Mark Vos, Head of Global Technical Services Continental Europe, Middle East & Africa at Crawford & Company says the Christchurch teams often have to take turns. “With Atlanta 16 hours behind and London 11 hours, we need to be prepared for the time difference and make the proper arrangements. People are more than fair and don’t expect us to stay up all night of course. Benedict Burke, Global Markets and Sarah Civil, GTS have held weekly conference calls with our principal client for over a year now. Our project terms of reference have moved considerably over this period and this consistent communication flow has allowed us to plan and flex our resource as needed. Both have also been out to NZ to see for themselves the logistical challenges we have and the complexity of the cases are handling.”

Benedict Burke for Crawford & Company is pleased the company has been able to support the people and businesses of New Zealand: “For now, loss adjusters remain at the coal face and will do for some time to come. The scale of their task is illustrated by the fact that the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) has expressed a need for 20 000-30 000 additional building workers once the full scale reconstruction is underway. Like any natural disaster, the Christchurch earthquakes may struggle to maintain status as headline news, but I’m glad to say we’ve played our part in telling its latest story.”

1 Comment on The Christchurch Earthquakes and the Power of Mother Nature

  1. Bill Milliard // October 13, 2012 at 1:59 am // Reply

    Tough assignment. I heard that, even now, there are still some buildings that need to be demolished.

    Like

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