The clean-up has begun in New South Wales after a once-in-a-decade storm brought relentless rain and winds, claiming four lives and causing devastation in 12 declared natural disaster areas.
As residents and emergency services count the human and material cost of the storms that raged on April 21 and 22, Club Marine has to date processed 237 storm-related claims and completed 55 salvage operations, with further claims expected as the week progresses.
Already, those hardest hit have been reimbursed for their losses with six total-loss claims, totalling $320,000, resolved within the week.
As the storm bore down on the coastal regions north of Sydney in the early hours of Tuesday morning, Club Marine was swift to respond by putting into action an Event Response Plan and mobilising its Catastrophe Response Team, led by National Claims Technical Manager Phil Johnson.
Coordinated by Johnson, five specialist marine assessors, together with several salvage operators, were on the ground in the worst-hit areas at Gosford, Lake Macquarie, and Port Stephens. Even as the storms raged, they identified damaged vessels and authorised the immediate salvage of boats to avoid further damage and to prevent environmental harm.
At the same time at Club Marine’s headquarters in Melbourne, claims staff immediately prioritised claims lodged from the affected regions, with Claims Services Manager John Leach-McGill and Claims Manager (Vic) Alistair Leaper coordinating the efforts.
In some cases, members weren’t even aware that their boats were damaged or at risk prior to receiving a call from our claims team.
“As the assessors phoned in the details of members’ damaged boats, our claims lodgement team contacted the owners to inform them of their boat’s condition and to get the claims process underway,” said Johnson of the initial task at hand.
“Our members are usually surprised when we phone them while the situation is still unfolding. People don’t generally expect their insurance to make the first call, and our members are pleased we’re being proactive and have specialists on site to take appropriate action.”
Meanwhile, Johnson and National Assessing Manager Darryl Humphreys have joined the assessors onsite at Gosford, Nelson Bay, and Lake Macquarie to hasten the claims decision process and confirm settlements wherever possible.
But while the weather may have eased, Humphreys advises all boat owners to check their mooring and berthing lines as a priority, as these may have sustained damage during the storm and could break unexpectedly.
“Due to the extreme wave action during the storm, boat’s lines were under duress for an extended period of time,” said Humphreys. “The strain and chafing may have caused fatigue or fraying on the lines, especially at the points where they leave the boat and chafe or press against the boat’s deck hardware.
“As a priority, we recommend boat owners check all lines and test the integrity of cleats, fairleads, winches, and all tie-up points that are under load as soon as possible. Even though their vessel has not broken away from its mooring lines, these could be frayed and close to failing.”
Drawing on its vast experience as Australia’s leading pleasurecraft insurer for more than 40 years, Club Marine is well equipped to respond quickly and effectively at all times.
“Our members’ needs are our priority and we strive to assist them swiftly and competently in their time of need,” said Club Marine CEO Simon McLean. “Our expert claims officers and specialist assessors have considerable expertise in natural disaster response and can help members get through the claims process as simply as possible.
“With the unforeseen severity of the recent storms in NSW and the extent of the personal and material loss caused by the extreme winds and rainfall, I’m proud of how our staff immediately gave top priority to taking care of members’ damaged boats – even while the storm raged – at the same time ensuring unrelated claims continued smoothly and with minimal disruption to our other services.”
Club Marine members can lodge a claim online at clubmarine.com.au or by calling 1300 00 CLUB (2582).
Top: A total loss left by last week’s storms on the coastal regions north of Sydney and (left) a yacht nestling among the waterfront houses at Belmont Bay. (Photo credit below: Mark Rothfield)
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