Living in Australia comes with an understanding that we are prone to certain natural disasters more than other parts of the world.
As we all know, these past few years Australia has been hit particularly hard. As we battle bushfires and flash floods across the country our claims expert Shaun reflects on what it’s like to work for a specialist insurer during a natural disaster and how NTI steps in to try and lend a helping hand.
Hi everyone, Shaun here, I’m a Total Loss Assessor in NTI’s Claims Services team, and when it comes to my job no two days are the same. So when a natural disaster hits as you can imagine it’s all hands on deck. Which meant this time last year I jumped on a plane to Townsville to meet our customers who were affected by the Townsville floods face-to-face to provide them with an immediate tailored response.
During the trip I witnessed streets full of police, army trucks, and trailers loaded up with damaged household items, and I met a wide range of people trying to stay positive in the aftermath of the disaster. My job during this time was to work with our specialist team back at HQ to help get our insureds and their vehicles back up and running.
Visiting dealerships is a large part of my job and that was no different in Townsville. Two vehicles at the dealership, Brescianini Motors, belonged to one of our insured customers. There was no question that the first vehicle had been flooded as there was water still sitting in the cup holders. An obvious replacement.
The second vehicle wasn’t flooded but did have water in the diesel tank which had gone through to the injectors. By the time I arrived repairs were already underway. After I ensured there was no internal engine damage I authorised the repairs to help the insured get back on the road.
The Townsville RSL was next on my list, as I drove to the entrance I could see tables, chairs, carpet, and kitchen equipment all piled up in the carpark. I found that the RSL’s ute and community bus both had flooded engines and they were total losses. The staff expressed their gratitude for the visit as they were too busy trying to get the RSL back in working order, so the vehicles were the last things on their minds.
The rest of my time in Townsville was spent visiting our insureds at their homes and properties. One couple showed me their truck which was parked outside when the flood came through. The house proud couple had already cleaned the vehicle but during my inspection I found a couple of hidden places that indicated the vehicle had indeed been flooded. The claim was settled on the spot, the couple were grateful to have it settled in person rather than over the phone.
An excavator was next on the inspection list. After a 70km drive I viewed the excavator and confirmed that the water was over 2 metres deep as the air filter was soaked with dirty water which was well above my head. The insured and I came to a settlement with a handshake deal on the side of the Bruce Highway.
One excavator down, one to go. I met an insured’s daughter and followed her to a property gate ready to inspect the vehicle however, the journey to get to the vehicle was interesting. When we arrived at the property gate I jumped into the insured’s car only to be told we needed to change vehicles again to cross Major’s Creek, which was now more like a river. In total it took us four different vehicles to get to the excavator, including a tractor to cross the creek!
The excavator was on the side of the river bank as the insured had attempted to retrieve the large irrigation pump in the river before it got swept away, however, the rain had made the ground too wet to get the excavator back up. The insured and I discussed settlement and recovery costs, and we shook hands on site agreeing to a settlement for the full sum insured less the excess.
While this is just a quick snapshot of what filled up my days in Townsville, you can see that even though we could have handled all of these claims over the phone and email, it was much quicker and easier for our affected Townsville customers.
That’s part of NTI’s DNA, putting the customer first. Whenever a natural disaster or incident strikes we try to make the process as quick and easy for our insured customers as possible.
As the bushfires continue across the country there are members of NTI’s expert claims team that are working hard to process claims and take away some of that stress and heartache from our valued customers. If you’ve been affected by a natural disaster call us on 1800 684 669 to make a claim.