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Cunningham Lindsey Australia Catastrophe Response Update

19th May 2015

Expert in this field


The Australian insurance industry has been faced with unprecedented claim volumes this year following six catastrophe events.

The Brisbane Hailstorm in November 2014 was shortly followed by the Adelaide Bushfires in January, Tropical Cyclone Marcia in February and with April came 3 separate storm catastrophes causing widespread damage throughout NSW and South East Queensland. During this time, other events included Tropical Cyclone Olwyn in Western Australia and 2 severe hailstorms in Chinchilla and Narribri, all causing extensive damage within these

Damage in the most recent events has ranged from minor water damage to carpets, impact by trees and windblown debris, right through to flood damage of entire homes and even total commercial building collapse under weight of hail. In unique circumstances, the East Coast Low in April resulted in an increase in deterioration of food and business interruption claims due to the extended loss of power.


To meet the high demands generated by the combined catastrophes we have had to manage an evolving response for our Clients. We already operate our own 24/7 Customer Services Centre in Wollongong which proved invaluable when each event struck allowing us to handle all new enquiries and attend to emergency needs. This team also undertake initial triage calls to ensure priorities are given to those worst affected customers where our early help is critical.

We also established Catastrophe Management Offices for each event and continue to run three CAT offices in Newcastle, Sydney and Brisbane. We mobilised teams including technical loss adjusters, restorers, building consultants, engineers and forensic accountants to provide immediate assistance in the wake of these significant events.

With the help of our Cunningham Lindsey colleagues in New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the US, we have been able to get more Adjusters on the ground, bring in additional specialist expertise, and have round the clock administration support that is vital in the early stages of customer contact, initial inspections, establishment of mitigation and eventual reporting.


The combination of these events has generated record volumes of claims being handled within Cunningham Lindsey and our various divisions. We recognise that a genuine focus on customer service is critical at all stages of each claim and in early April we established Customer Care Teams in Melbourne, Parramatta, Adelaide and Brisbane. These teams are staffed with a mix of new and existing staff managing predominantly “business as usual”
claims which are nearing finalisation and are working with the objectives of:

• Pro-actively managing claim activity

• Improving customer communication

• Driving supplier management

• Reducing claim life

We are already seeing the benefit of reducing the workload on our Adjusters and supporting them as they continue to offer real value in the earlier stages of the new event claims. In addition to our Customer Care Teams, we have also increased the number of casual support staff where needed and are working significant overtime in our regional branches to ensure we service our existing customers’ claims.


Forensic Advisory Services 

Our forensic accounting division have been engaged in all of the events, particularly in the larger losses where business interruption and stock reconciliations are major elements.

Due to the high volume of minor loss of trade claims following the power outages across NSW, we have expanded our Small Claims Team with the support of our New Zealand colleagues.

Oriel Property Services

Given the number of water damage losses, our Oriel Restoration team have seen their highest volume of jobs in their history. It is pleasing to see more than 30 restoration firms were able to be mobilised quickly to attend to the needs of many homeowners and businesses.

To increase our capacity, we are working with our UK colleagues remotely which allows us to effectively operate through the night in processing the documentation that supports each site.

Managed Repair Services

This centralised team based in Parramatta manages low value building claims and has doubled their capacity to service their Clients and their customers’ claims.


Our established team of building consultants have been working across all of the events, particularly where project management is required for some of our larger losses. The Quantity Surveying unit has been heavily involved in supporting the quantification of our larger structural losses.

EFI Global

In a first for Cunningham Lindsey in Australia, a team of 3 environmental engineers have arrived from the US to support Sergon with some of our more technical losses associated with mould and asbestos.

Working closely with our Sergon Project Managers, we have been able to draw on their expertise to deliver refined outcomes that are making a difference in our approach to complex situations.

24/7 Emergency Assistance

Cunningham Lindsey have a fully staffed call centre that operates every minute of the year. You can reach us for any emergency on 1800 811 285 where you will speak to an experienced team member who can source the assistance needed from our Loss Adjusters or our emergency trade team at Oriel.

Further information

If you would like to learn more about how we are managing the response to these events, please speak directly with your Account Manager or our key staff listed below:

Brad Mountford
Head of Business Development
T: +61 411 047 926 E: [email protected]

Brian Doughty
Head of Strategic Client Management
T: +61 417 238 083 E: [email protected]

Amy King
Client Account Manager – Oriel
T: 1300 654 599 E: [email protected]

Susan McBride
Client Services Manager – Sergon
T: 1300 735 720 E: [email protected]

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