Pick up sticks, aftermath of Cyclone Yasi
11 May 2011
As category 5 Cyclone Yasi decimated Cardwell, the resultant storm surge picked up moored vessels and their pontoons at nearby Port Hinchinbrook and tossed them far and wide with many landing on top of each other in the gardens of luxury villas facing the water. While approximately 60 boats littered the foreshore, their piles stood like lonely sentinels in the salty water, no match against the storm surge which caused the pontoons to float off the piles leaving vessel and pontoon to the mercy of the elements.
In response to the expected marine claims, Associated Marine met with other insurers (QBE/CGU) to discuss a plan of action that would centralise their approach in the aftermath of the cyclone and deal quickly and expeditiously with an estimated $60 million worth of damage to vessels in addition to associated damage to property.
Agreement was quickly reached on a one-person/one-desk approach for all potential claims in the commercial hull/private pleasure craft category for this group of insurers and led to the appointment of surveyors Australian Marine Consultants, based in Cairns and North Queensland.
Headed up by Des Ward, this team of ship and marine surveyors, marine assessors, investigators and loss adjusters have an enviable reputation and a professional respected partnership with the Associated Marine team through their past working relationships.
Des Ward noted, “When we received the call, we were the first surveyors on the ground in Hinchinbrook with a good two and a half day head-start before we were joined by competitors. Our first impression of the jumble of yachts was of a children’s game of ‘pick-up-sticks’ where each child picks a stick out of the pile in the hope that the whole lot does not come tumbling down. Fortunately, our approach was much more ordered. We started on the outside and worked our way in.”
This approach allowed Des’s team to identify each relevant vessel, their owner and insurer in a logical manner. They organised the vessel’s removal so that the salvage team could gain access to identify the damage. “Each vessel had to be individually assessed to see if it could be repaired or was a total loss. One of our key challenges was to make it as painless as possible for their owners,” advised Des.
Working closely with Harsh Chopra (Associated Marine’s designated claims catastrophe expert), all claims were handled satisfactorily with none escalating to costly and time consuming court litigation, a good outcome for all parties.
“The one-person/one-desk positioning worked very well for Associated Marine, especially where there was a cross liability with one insurer covering P&I and a second covering the hull,” stated Harsh. “In keeping with our focus on servicing our customers, the specially formed Associated Marine catastrophe claims team was in lockdown in Sydney until all cyclone related marine claims were satisfactorily resolved and relevant vessels relocated to Cardwell, Townsville or Cairns for repairs.”
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