Club Marine's quick and effective storm response

Club Marine’s Emergency Response Team swung into action as the east coast of Australia was lashed by severe storms from June 3, on the ground in the worst-hit regions within hours of the storm ebbing and reimbursing over $1m in claims within the week.

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Led by National Claims Technical Manager Phil Johnson, in total Club Marine dealt with 91 claims and 21 salvage operations, and settled some 90 per cent of total-loss claims within days – an outstanding result for our members and an exceptional performance within the industry.

Claims varied from minor impact damage and ripped canopies to 20 total losses, including yachts dragged out to sea at Devonport, Tasmania, and others smashed against the shore as the fierce storm and ocean swell progressed along the East Coast.

Phil Johnson was on the ground in the worst-hit areas with a team of specialist marine assessors and salvage operators.

“Despite the ferocity of the storms, the damage to member’s vessels was not as severe or widespread as anticipated – in part due to the wind angle, with the damaging winds coming from the north-east and not causing as much destruction as winds of that strength coming from the southwest might have,” said Johnson.

“Our members were generally well prepared, having secured their boats before the storm bore down, which certainly contributed toward the relatively low amount of claims.”

At the same time, Club Marine’s claims staff immediately prioritised claims lodged from the affected areas, with Chief Operating Officer Nora Watkins coordinating the efforts.

“While we realise our members may be coming to terms with more pressing matters at the moment, they’re urged to contact us as soon as possible to begin the claims process,” said Watkins. “Our expert claims staff can help lodge a claim over the phone to swiftly get the process going, arrange for an assessor to examine the damage, and organise repairs.”

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(Left) Club Marine member Mark Wilson’s boat Omega riding a 5m wave, just after breaking its mooring and a few minutes before crashing against rocks. Photo: Graham Grocott. (Above) Boats left high and dry at Shoal Bay, NSW. (Below) Some of the wreckage at Bundeena, NSW.

Among those who lost their boats to the storm is Club Marine member Mark Wilson, whose timber cruiser Omega, built by renowned Sydney boatbuilder Cec Quilkey in 1974, was washed ashore at Bundeena, south of Sydney.

“I double checked the mooring on Friday ahead of the storm and found it was secure and ready to withstand the impending weather,” said Wilson. “The mooring survived, but the bowsprit ripped clear off the deck.

“We owned Omega for 25 years and had sustained numerous storms … we never had a problem, but this one proved too much,” said Wilson. “Omega was a wonderful fishing and family boat built entirely of mahogany. She was an ideal boat for Sydney, and we could fit 15 people aboard with plenty of room for everyone to move around.

“Our personal effects are all gone, the boat is a wreck … people are bringing us bits of her that they’ve found washed up.

“What heartened me was Club Marine’s personal and caring service. Losing our boat like this is heartbreaking, but Phil and the claims team contacted me and took care of everything – it just took a large percentage of the worry out of the equation. I’m very happy with how I was taken care of.”

Club Marine member Colin Forrester, of Wollongong, also took steps to prepare his boat for the storm, but wasn’t able to save his prized gamefishing boat Hammer’n from severe damage.

“The force of the waves pushed my boat backward against the concrete blocks in Wollongong Harbour, forcing the rudder through the hull – that’s what caused Hammer’n to sink,” said Forrester.

“Club Marine and the assessors did a great job, they certainly took great care of me and I take my hat off to them … it’s incredible to see everyone working together so well and good to know your insurance company has got your back when you need them.

“It was the saddest of days made easier by Club Marine – that’s what I call service!”

Drawing on its vast experience as Australia’s leading pleasurecraft insurer for more than 45 years, Club Marine is well equipped to respond quickly and effectively at all times.

“Our thoughts are with those who have lost their boats or property in the storms and are coming to terms with the devastation,” said Club Marine CEO Simon McLean.

“At the same time, I’m very proud of how our team responded to the situation, immediately prioritising claims received from storm-affected members and coordinating inspections or salvage operations with the team of assessors and boat owners.

“Of chief importance is assisting our members in their time of need and helping return a degree of normality to their lives as swiftly as possible. Our expert claims officers and specialist assessors have considerable experience in natural disaster response and can help them get through the claims process as simply as possible.”

Meanwhile, all boat owners are advised to check their boat’s mooring and berthing lines as a priority, as these may have sustained damage and could be at risk of breaking.

Club Marine members are reminded they can receive automated severe-weather warnings from the Club Marine App. All they need to do is register their boat’s location on the app’s weather warning function and they’ll receive a notification when inclement weather is approaching.

Club Marine members can lodge a claim online here in less than 10 minutes at clubmarine.com.au, or by calling 1300 00 CLUB (2582) from 7am to 9pm, seven days a week.

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