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Catastrophic events lead to global collaboration

The start to 2023 was a rocky one for New Zealand, as two catastrophic events hit within weeks. Cyclone Gabrielle and extreme flooding impacted tens of thousands of homes and businesses. Nation-wide, the multi-disaster weather catastrophe left insurers with a near insurmountable number of claims, as the community sought immediate relief. The unpredictable nature of severe weather events leaves many insurers exposed to heightened risks if a strong prevention and recovery framework is not in place. In this article, we look back on how Gallagher Bassett (GB) supported New Zealand insurers by drawing on the power of our global resources. Additionally, we share our key takeaways and insights on how you can prepare your business for surges in claims volumes amid extreme weather events.     

In late January, New Zealand first faced a 1-in-200-year flooding event that was responsible for the costliest non-earthquake catastrophe recorded. Just weeks later, Cyclone Gabrielle hit the North Island, leaving $890 million worth of insurance claims in its wake. Combined, the disasters left insurers in distress as more than 40,000 claims were received and numbers growing by the day. Gallagher Bassett New Zealand deployed an emergency-recovery strategy that engaged its global partners in Australia, United Kingdom, United States and Singapore. Through this, worldwide GB teams joined together to support claims resolutions and rapid recruitment initiatives to deliver a seamless road to recovery, and timely service to our clients when they needed it most. Whilst New Zealand has faced catastrophic events in the past, we’ve not yet seen anything like the disasters of early 2023. The volumes of property, contents and motor claims associated with the Auckland Floods and Cyclone were felt by many insurers, who were able to lean on GB’s operational strategies, expertise and disaster response to deliver timely outcomes for the New Zealand community.  

For insurers, it’s important to take stock of how severe weather events have impacted insurance providers globally to inform a robust recovery strategy for your business. In the weeks and months following the New Zealand weather crises, a fundamental strategy of the GB team was the deployment of resources at the right time, to ensure the right outcome. For example, an integrated team of customer service professionals, claims experts and analytics resources were utilised to streamline claims handling and drive faster and more accurate claims resolutions for the community. Secondly, harnessing the power of partnering with a global organisation is a strong strategy for insurers to navigate crises and cement superior operational outcomes. Strategic partners provide always-on expertise and support as an extension of your team, with the insights to guide you through the unknown and recovery from never-before-seen claims volumes.   

Overall, GB’s response to these catastrophic events was an endorsement of global collaboration and the value of joining forces quickly and effectively to achieve enhanced claims outcomes. Partnering with GB may be the answer you need to prepare now for the next catastrophic event. We know it will happen; we just don’t know when. Reach out to our teams today and explore how we can help you before the next one strikes.  

Craig Furness

CEO - Gallagher Bassett New Zealand

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