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Media release

Vero asks Wellington: Are you prepared?

20 August, 2015

One of New Zealand’s largest insurers, Vero, has asked Wellington businesses whether they are prepared in the event of a natural disaster.

The question was posed by Vero chief executive Gary Dransfield in an address to dozens of Wellington businessses and government organisations gathered at an event held by the Trans-Tasman Business Circle in the capital today. The address drew on the experiences of a number of Vero’s Canterbury business customers.

In his address Mr Dransfield said a permanent disaster recovery capability should be seriously considered for New Zealand, and he supports the government’s move to retain the learning and expertise that the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) has gained.

“What everyone has learned in the recovery phase is that it does take a long time to assemble knowledge, expertise and relationships. There is a good argument - that the Minister is giving due consideration to - for maintaining the capability and expertise CERA has learned, alongside our Ministry of Civil Defence, to build resilience and provide support to local and regional areas struck by natural or other disasters, large and small.”

He referenced Queensland in Australia as an example, based on the experience of Vero’s parent company, Suncorp Group in support of the Queensland floods. “Queensland has experienced a number of natural disasters which has helped it refine its model for handling recovery.” The Queensland Reconstruction Authority was established following the devastating natural disasters between November 2010 and April 2011. The Authority manages and coordinates the Government’s programme of infrastructure reconstruction within disaster-affected communities.

Mr Dransfield also took the opportunity in the address to reflect on Vero’s role following the Canterbury earthquakes, the first of which struck on September 4, 2010, just under five years ago.

“One of the realities of dealing with multiple, large-scale events is that it takes time for all parties to comprehend the full extent of the damage and establish appropriate protocols for response. We have learned lessons and we continue to learn.

“We had an advantage of being a locally-led underwriter of insurance policies, with an on-the-ground presence including local resourcing and a wide network of technical expertise. This was a real advantage for us in being able to deliver to our customers.

“We have made significant progress but the remaining claims are complex, which is why they have taken longer to resolve. As Canterbury moves from recovery to regeneration, we are committed to working through each and every claim."

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Vero Voice • 16 February 2015

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Vero is now calling for a discussion on whether New Zealand’s natural disaster insurance model operates in the best way for customers, particularly around claims management - where the inefficiency of dual handling has been a major frustration for customers.