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19 June 2013
Underinsurance, complex claims and loss adjusters’ lack of resources are the key challenges for loss adjusters dealing with last year’s devastating Thai floods, according to Australasian Institute of Chartered Loss Adjusters (AICLA) President Ian Lavin.
Speaking at the CC12 Claims Convention in Sydney last week, Mr Lavin – who is also the Regional MD Asia Pacific for McLarens Young International in Hong Kong – said his first assessments in flooded factory estates were conducted in gumboots with crocodiles in the water.
The floods were the fourth-largest insurance event in history.
He says minimal flood mitigation had been done in many cases because the owners relied on “levees and government assurances”. The army later pumped water out of some estates where there was inadequate drainage.
Mr Lavin visited factories that were dark and slippery, full of soaked cardboard cartons and pollution. A great deal of stock – ranging from whitegoods to cars and electronic components – was underwater and large machines that had been too heavy to move were covered in rust.
Insurers faced many challenges, including inadequate sums insured, a lack of business interruption insurance and claims for the purchase cost of equipment bought more than 20 years earlier.
The claims were also complex, as multiple events made it difficult to determine loss dates.
In addition, many of the Thai companies are Japanese-owned, meaning that meetings needed interpreters between three languages.
Mr Lavin says there were not enough loss adjusters to deal with the disaster, particularly as it happened following the Christchurch earthquakes.
Staff flown in after the disaster also struggled to find enough office space for both employees and files.
“It’s not unusual to get a delivery of 40 or 50 ring binders of documentation at any one time to support a loss,” Mr Lavin said.
The largest loss was $US2 billion ($1.9 billion), three or four were higher than $US1 billion ($947 million) and numerous losses were more than $US100 million ($94.7 million).
The World Bank estimates economic losses from the Thai floods at $US45.7 billion ($43.3 billion).
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