Canadian Underwriter

Letters to the Editor (December 01, 2003)

December 1, 2003   by Canadian Underwriter

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The recent debate regarding automobile insurance rates in Nova Scotia has overshadowed the significant and positive impact that the industry has had in dealing with the huge volume of Hurricane Juan related claims. We recently wrote to the Nova Scotia Premier, Dr. John Hamm, pointing out the flexibility and commitment that the industry has demonstrated in light of the heavy burden the hurricane has placed on the industry. A copy of our letter is attached in the hope that you can share it with the industry:

Dear Sir,

The insurance industry and its partners are working hard to restore the lives of all those affected by Hurricane Juan.

Yesterday in Halifax we hosted a BBQ for approximately 80 very tired but very dedicated insurance professionals, providing them with an opportunity to ‘take a break from Juan’. The event was a great success. During our brief break, I was struck by how difficult it is right now for property insurers in the Halifax area.

To put things in context, the damage caused by Hurricane Juan led to the equivalent of 7-8 months worth of claims being reported over a one-week period. The burden that this places on the insurers is tremendous. Many have catastrophe (CAT) teams that were mobilized and flew into the area. While this certainly helped deal with the flood of claims, all have relied upon the dedication of their employees to deal with the ongoing situation.

Disaster Kleenup Canada is especially thankful for the flexibility and patience that insurers have demonstrated since Juan struck. Using ourselves as an example, we typically have 30-35 employees in the Halifax area. Many insurers approached us and are voluntarily paying a modest ‘manpower mobilization cost’, an additional expense, that has allowed our company to bring in experienced work crews from New Brunswick, P.E.I., Newfoundland and Ontario in order to keep up with the demand for services. At present we have approximately 350 people working in the Halifax area. They have, in some cases, taken over entire wings of hotels. They are purchasing materials, eating at restaurants, renting tools and equipment and using other local services. We have one member company from Ontario who mobilized crews on Thanksgiving weekend and plans to keep them in the area for two solid months.

All of this is being done at the request and the expense of the insurance industry. The insurers recognize that they have a commitment to their customers and, despite the manpower constraints, have done everything possible to live up to their commitment.

The citizens of Nova Scotia have an insurance industry that they can be proud of. The industry has provided value for money. Hurricane Juan has reminded Nova Scotia and indeed the rest of Canada as to the need for insurance, and that the insurers are doing their utmost to keep the promises that they have made, no matter how big the job. DKC is thankful to work with the insurers in an industry that so positively affects the lives of so many people.

Yours sincerely,

Kyle Urech

Disaster Kleenup International (Canada) Ltd.