Last year, with the prospect of a severe CAT season looming, Sedgwick released a short piece — relevant to insurers, brokers and their customers alike — that stressed the importance of planning ahead.

Considering the upheaval across Australia caused by the extreme rainfall, we felt it would be beneficial to reshare the details of that article, updated to include a reminder that, with more extreme weather likely on the way, we should all be fully prepared for severe weather events that may occur in the coming year.

For a more detailed look at what may be approaching, we encourage you to read the Climate Council’s recent report, ‘The Great Deluge: Australia’s New Era of Unnatural Disasters’. Amongst its key findings is a warning around predicted increased cyclone activity, and the effects that could have on already-saturated catchments, with little capacity to absorb more rainfall.

Whilst we hope that Australia will be spared in the coming months, Sedgwick continues to review and improve our responses to each event, so we’re ready to respond as required.

The importance of catastrophe planning

As one of the most experienced claims management firms globally, Sedgwick is no stranger to catastrophe response; we’ve been heavily involved in recovery efforts following cyclones, earthquake, floods and, of course, fire.

Our ability to respond to major events and continue managing our ‘business as usual’ commitments is the result of extensive planning by our catastrophe (CAT) response team.

In addition to our extensive understanding of CAT events, key elements that enable Sedgwick to deploy swift and effective CAT response include:

  • Dedicated colleagues who help with major event response planning and shaping our approach to different perils and how we will respond.
  • A nationwide network of 40+ offices, which enables us to mobilise colleagues in the field promptly and efficiently.
  • The latest technologies – either on site or remote — that allow claim experts to assess damage and make efficient recommendations for remediation and/or settlement.
  • Global engagement with Sedgwick experts in more than 65 countries who can provide additional support and knowledge as required.
  • A thorough review process whereby we review our response to each CAT event and implement enhancements wherever we can.

The catastrophe season 2021/22 in Australia commenced with several surge events that impacted numerous communities through storm, hail, and flood events. There are several ways insurers, brokers and policyholders can prepare themselves to potentially mitigate the effects of future major weather events — which could mean reduced claim costs, strengthened trust from the community, and most importantly, keeping Australians safer — including:

  • Know your portfolios. Be aware of your clients’ exposure to certain perils and when they may be susceptible to specific major or surge weather events. Damage from a major storm can affect anyone, but not all properties are equally at risk of cyclones, bushfires, flooding or earthquakes. Consider contacting clients at risk from an impending event ahead of time to assist them in mitigating the danger — and reassuring them that you’re there to help in the event of a claim.
  • Define your business response. Ensure your team knows their role in your CAT event response. Who will be your customers’ first point of contact when they reach out? Who will look after your most vulnerable customers?
  • Maintain up-to-date contact lists. Our experience suggests that the importance of maintaining a regularly updated list of external contacts of all interested parties, especially loss adjusters, is often overlooked.
  • Work with your clients to create individual CAT plans according to their circumstances, including:
    • Provide options to protect their properties from a potential threat.
      • Bushfires – maintain clearance from trees, add sprinklers to the roof, remove fuel from around the property, keep drainage clear
      • Floods – keep sandbags on site, have options to move key items to higher levels of a building
    • Engage with local fire brigades to understand their disaster planning.
    • Create a collection of items they’ll take with them should they need to leave quickly, including:
      • Insurance documents
        • Any recent photos showing the property and contents inside the dwelling make it easier for the claim process, especially after the shock from the event
      • Key personal papers (passports, birth certificates, etc.)
      • Family photos
      • Jewellery
      • Heirlooms
      • Family pets
      • Data – it’s also wise to back up all data and store it elsewhere (e.g., at an office or with a trusted family member)

And, should they need to evacuate:

  • Identify several exit routes away from their property to areas of potential safety.
  • Keep an up-to-date list of contact details for their family.
  • Pre-arrange a place to meet or to check in with family members to confirm everyone is safe.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for and accept help.

With predictions that severe weather events will increase due to climate change, Sedgwick anticipates that our response teams will soon be called upon more than ever to deal with increasingly severe events.  And while no two events evolve in the same way, our experience tells us, time and again, that whilst proper planning can’t prevent disasters from happening, it can help to keep people safe and reduce damage.

For more details about our catastrophe planning solutions, please visit our site or contact Paul Bloxsome, Sedgwick’s global specialty markets manager, at / 0430 273200.

Everyone at Sedgwick wishes you a safe and prosperous 2023.