What are the biggest challenges facing loss adjusting and the wider insurance sector right now? 

 Staff resourcing appears to be the perennial challenge that loss adjusters face, as do insurers and brokers. Whether we are recruiting general adjusters for domestic losses, or specialists for major commercial work, it is tough to find good people with the requisite skills and temperament. We staff up for ‘business-as-usual’, but then need to stretch our resource when disaster strikes. 

The acceleration of climate change, delivering more frequent and intensive weather events over larger geographical areas, presents logistical challenges and impacts our capacity and capability. 

Having extra skilled resource for deployment is, therefore, essential. The ability to scale up resource at short notice to meet demand is a key factor in our readiness and response planning across New Zealand. Having the right resource, in the right place, at the right time, is crucial to our comprehensive service offering.

How can technology help with capacity issues?

Technology is a vital element of our response strategy. Our staff need to be well trained in the use of technology that is ‘fit for purpose’, to deliver service that provides speedy resolution for our insurer clients, brokers and their customers. We are well versed in the application of smartphones and tablets to carry out virtual assessments, and we employ drones to circumvent issues of restricted or remote access. Tools such as satellite imagery and 3D scanning of damage are also part of the “technology basket”. 

The proper use of tools saves precious resource, which can then be redeployed to help customers requiring greater support. Technology can save time and is more cost effective. As we have seen benefits of technology in how we deliver services to clients and customers, we remain committed to our ongoing investment in technology to further improve efficiencies and enhance the customer journey.

What are you doing to keep ahead of the current challenges?

We are focusing on ways that Sedgwick in New Zealand can support the broader insurance industry, particularly in responding to the unusual demands that accompany large scale events. We have invested in flexible trained resources and have enhanced our systems to identify vulnerable customers at the very first contact.

With our border now open, we have access to Sedgwick international’s global resources, who use the same claim management system wherever they work in the world. Our New Zealand-wide coverage enables us to respond quickly and efficiently wherever losses occur, and our branch network is ably supported by building and engineering specialists in the major and complex loss team and Sedgwick building consultancy. 

How can the industry adapt to a challenging environment, with more frequent and damaging catastrophes?

We believe in the power of partnership to create an environment where we can develop innovative solutions to overcome the challenges we face with the ever-increasing threat of climate related events. Developing strategies to handle the impact of climate change will require closer collaboration from all stakeholders to design and implement systems that strengthen resilience in the New Zealand claims sector. 

We regularly speak to insurers about planning for disaster response, but it might be very useful to bring brokers into a three-way conversation, so the customer’s voice is heard more clearly. 

Technology in the claim space, readiness and resilience, staffing and culture, data and reporting, are just some of the important topics trending at the moment in New Zealand property insurance. If we work together, we can enhance customer experience, and show that ‘caring counts’.

Do you expect the claims environment to improve? How can the industry deal with challenges and build upon its customer-centric approach?

We need to set realistic expectations for all concerned and simplify processes wherever possible. Regular engagement and closer collaboration between all stakeholders will ensure the industry continues to build on its customer-centric focus, helping New Zealanders in their hour of need.

December 2022

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