The importance of catastrophe planning

The catastrophe season 2021-22 in Australia has commenced with several surge events already impacting numerous communities through storm, hail, and flood events. Sedgwick is no stranger to catastrophe response and has been heavily involved in recovery efforts following cyclones, earthquakes, floods, and of course, fire.

Written on 12 January, 2022
Wendy Martin

As one of the most experienced claims management firms globally, Sedgwick is no stranger to catastrophe response and has been heavily involved in recovery efforts following cyclones, earthquakes, floods, and of course, fire.

Our ability to respond to major events and continue to manage our ‘business as usual’ commitments is the result of extensive planning by our catastrophe (CAT) response team.

In addition to the general understanding of CAT response bought about by our experience, other key elements that enable us to deploy swiftly and effectively in the event of a CAT include:

  • colleagues who are dedicated to major event response planning and shaping our approach to different perils and how we will respond.
  • a nationwide network of 40 plus offices, enabling us to get colleagues to mobilise in the field promptly.
  • utilisation of the latest technologies – either on-site or remotely allowing claim experts to assess the damage and make efficient recommendations for remediation and/or settlement.
  • ability to engage with expert colleagues in over 65 countries for additional expertise when required.
  • post-CAT review process whereby we review our response to each event and implement enhancements.

With predictions that severe weather events will increase due to climate change, we anticipate that our response teams will soon be called upon more than ever to deal with increasingly severe events.

The catastrophe season 2021-22 in Australia has commenced with several surge events already impacting numerous communities through storm, hail, and flood events. There are several ways insurers, brokers, and policyholders can be prepared and potentially mitigate the effects of future major weather events, resulting in reduced claim costs, strengthened trust in the community, and most importantly, keeping Australians safe. These include:

  • knowing your portfolios – be aware of your clients’ exposure to certain perils and when they may be susceptible to specific major or surge weather events. Of course, damage from a major storm can affect anyone, but not all properties are equally at risk of cyclones, bushfires, flooding, and even earthquakes.  If they are in danger from an impending event, consider contacting them ahead of time to assist them to mitigate the danger, or simply to advise that you’re there to help in the event of a claim.
  • define your business response – ensure your team knows their role in your response to an event – for example, who will be the first contact to your customers when they contact you? Who will look after vulnerable customers?
  • maintain up-to-date contact lists – our experience suggests that the importance of maintaining an up-to-date list of external contacts of all interested parties, especially loss adjusters, is often overlooked.
  • work with your clients to create individual CAT plans according to their circumstances, including:
    • options to protect their properties from a potential threat
      • for bushfire – maintain clearance from trees, add sprinklers to the roof, remove fuel from around the property, keep drainage clear
      • for flood – keep sandbags on-site, have options to move key items to higher levels of a building
    • engage with local fire brigades to understand their disaster planning
    • create a collection of items that they will take with them should they need to leave quickly, including:
      • insurance documents
        • any recent photos showing the property and contents inside the dwelling make it easier for the claim process, especially after the shock from the event
      • key personal papers, including passports, birth certificates, etc
      • family photos
      • jewellery
      • heirlooms
      • family pets
      • data – it’s also wise to back up all data and store it elsewhere – perhaps in an office, or with a trusted family member.

And, should they need to evacuate:

  • identify several exit routes away from their property to areas of potential safety
  • keep an up-to-date list of contact details for their family
  • pre-arrange a place to meet, or at least check in with to advise family members that everyone is safe
  • don’t be afraid to ask for and accept help.

Clearly, no two events evolve in the same way, however, our experience has highlighted time and again that whilst proper planning can’t prevent disasters from happening, it can help to keep people safe and reduce damage.

For more details about Sedgwick and our catastrophe planning, please visit www.sedgwick.com.au or contact either:

Clare Cordingley, Senior Manager, Major Event Response – clare.cordingley@au.sedgwick.com 

Paul Bloxsome, Global Specialty Markets Manager – paul.bloxsome@au.sedgwick.com