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Whether you have a large corporation or small to medium enterprise, business today is tougher and more challenging than ever before.
We will help you protect your business when you need it most and prevent you from further losses
We’ve got your business covered, but what about you and your family?
You’ve worked hard to build a thriving business, but life can be unpredictable. While we have your business risk covered, in a serious event what you value most could also be at risk – you, your family and your livelihood
Benefit from our partnership with Allianz Global Assist and get a 30% discount by placing your business through our website!
We will insure your vehicle, truck, trailer, and a full range of registered / conditionally registered vehicles including earthmoving equipment.
We will tailor the coverage to suit your personal or business needs and include various options to ensure the policy will respond due to damage caused by accident or collision, including cover to any third party property if you are at fault, theft, and public liability.
Backed by the largest insurance market in the world, Lloyd’s of London, Dream Wedding Insurance provides comprehensive wedding insurance to Australian’s getting married at home or overseas. A wedding is one of the most memorable days in a couple’s life and we make sure that it remains memorable for the right reasons. Dream Wedding Insurance provides coverage for unexpected events, giving you peace of mind for your special day.
We now have a dedicated Retail Division to help you place and manage your retail insurance such as home and contents, motor vehicles, boats, caravans, motorhomes, motor bikes and domestic farms.
Motor vehicle insurance offers a range of different styles of cover and Austbrokers Coast to Coast can assist in making the right choice and delivering a personalised claim service in the event of an accident.
On average we can save you 25% on your next Insurance renewal!
Is your Insurance tailored to suit your businesses specific needs?
Austbrokers Coast to Coast have partnered with Vero Insurance to be able to provide you with a tailored policy that suits your specific hairdressing and beauty therapist needs. The policy has been designed to cover you for all the risks and hazards your business encounters on a daily bases.
Residential strata insurance (also known as body corporate cover in some states) is general insurance that covers common property under the management of a strata title or body corporate entity. Owners of strata titles typically share the premium costs of strata insurance as part of their strata fees and liabilities. Holding strata insurance is mandatory under each state’s relevant strata legislation.
Home and contents insurance is important cover and should be considered by all consumers. It seeks to cover the insured for damage to their home as well as the contents of the home.
From building damage to loss of rent,
this insurance is vital in making sure that
your investments conintue to grow
Here at Austbrokers Coast to Coast weve heard a lot of stories recently that involve business people having medical problems while travelling. We know that a serious accident or illness away from home can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical and air ambulance expenses so in this edition we decided to focus in on the services behind our corporate travel insurance policies.
Benefit from our expertise in this complex market. Ask to speak to our Corporate Team for more information
We all know the lines, Australia's fastest growing insurer, we understand you, little red quotes, etc etc. The tv advertising claiming lower premiums and great service when you need them. Unfortunately the reality is quite different. The fact is that these companies ply us night after night with advertising because they need new clients to replace the ones that are leaving following the misfortune of bad experiences when they needed these companies most. Below are the annual survey results in relation to some of the well known insurers:
Satisfaction scores for insurers Youi, Coles and Budget Direct are below the industry average and the trio may find it difficult to retain home insurance customers, according to Roy Morgan Research.
The research company’s satisfaction survey for the year to October, based on interviews with more than 30,000 household insurance policyholders, produced an overall satisfaction score of 80.7% – up from 78.5% in 2013 and 74.3% a decade ago.
Youi scored 79.5%, Coles 77.3% and Budget Direct placed bottom in the survey of 18 insurers with 75.7%.
“It is worth noting that three of the major challenger brands… are all below average when it comes to satisfaction and likelihood of renewing,” Roy Morgan Industry Communications Director Norman Morris said.
“Our data shows these insurers are gaining new customers but they may have difficulty in retaining them.
“To be successful, it is crucial for insurance companies to retain customers.”
The Royal Automobile Association of SA tops the rankings with a score of 92.1%.
Suncorp-owned Apia is second with 89.3%, followed by RAC WA (87.5%) and IAG-owned SGIO WA (85.7%).
RACQ Insurance is fifth with 84.5%, followed by RACV (83.4%), IAG-owned NRMA Insurance (83.3%) and CGU (81.7%).
Rounding out the top 10 are Suncorp-owned AAMI (81.4%) and Allianz (80.9%).
Suncorp Insurance is 11th with 80%, followed by sister company GIO on 79.8%.
QBE scored 79.4% to take 14th spot.
Christmas is a time for fun and celebration but amidst the tinsel and festivities, what is known as the “silly season” can pose a number of risks for business owners. Here are our best tips on how you can avoid some of festive season’s risks.
Party time - excellent
According to recent figures by employment law consultancy Employsure , over 80% of businesses will host some form of end-of-year party this month. While this is a great time to celebrate the hard work you and your team have put in over the past 12 months, it can also be a time when things can go very wrong, particularly with alcohol involved. In fact, last year alone, over 70% of bosses disciplined staff due to bad behaviour at a Christmas function.
So what can you do to ensure that your Christmas bash doesn’t turn sour?
In Australia, the festive season also happens to be smack-bang in the middle of storm and bushfire season for large parts of the country. The damage a large-scale thunder storm, cyclone or bushfire can cause is difficult to deal with at the best of times, but during the Christmas period many building, production or distribution services already stretched, making the impact of a natural disaster during this time much more significant. It’s always advisable to ensure your insurance cover is up to date and factors in the cost of your business being disrupted as well as the cost of replacing physical items. Talk to a qualified insurance broker for more information on ensuring you’re adequately covered.
As Christmas approaches, the lead up to the break can be extremely busy, with businesses working overtime to complete orders, finish projects or get ready for those much vaunted Boxing Day sales period.
Research conducted by GIO Workers Compensation has shown that there is a rise in workplace accidents during the Christmas period as many businesses cut corners or don’t take proper safety precautions in a rush to meet deadlines. Whatever your deadline is, the cost of a workplace accident is far greater.
Similarly, the rush to deliver on time coupled with employees taking leave during the Christmas period means many businesses turn to temporary staff to help out. As with any new employee, temporary staff will likely be unfamiliar with your business processes or safety practices, which could lead to mishaps both in terms of worker injury or productivity.
Make sure your temporary staff are performing tasks that match their skills and experience and provide any new employee, temporary or not, with a proper workplace induction.
With the increased demand of products and service, many businesses can fall behind delivery schedules. To prevent angry customers from lashing out or tarnishing your reputation, make sure you keep communicating with them and providing updates on when they’re likely to receive your product or service. Generally, people don’t mind waiting as long as they’re aware of it and will go out of their way to talk about a good customer service experience, which can go a long way in helping you grow your business.
Hail is caused when raindrops are lifted up into the atmosphere during a thunderstorm and then supercooled by temperatures below freezing, turning them into ice balls.
Thunderstorms are extremely volatile weather systems and winds blow in all directions, including strong updrafts and downdrafts.
When the powerful winds inside a thunderstorm carry the water droplets high enough to freeze, they turn into tiny hail stones.
Small hail stones get bigger when downdrafts carry them below the freezing point, where they are coated with a layer of liquid water, before being lifted up again where the new layer of water freezes.
In this process pea-sized hail can become golf ball-sized hail, which can in turn become tennis ball-sized hail in the right conditions.
The blocks of ice fall to earth once they are too big and heavy for winds to keep them in the air.
According to Bureau of Meteorology archives, the biggest reported hail stones in Australia have fallen in south-east Queensland.
On November 11, 1869 there were reports of hail stones with a diameter of 20 centimetres, weighing more than half a kilogram, battering the greater Brisbane area. An observer remarked that "hail caused much damage to crops and cotton."
Twenty-centimetre hail was also reported in the Sunshine Coast community of Holts Hill on December 13, 1943, when a resident described the hail as "considerably bigger than hens' eggs."
Further to my recent post regarding Youi in NZ and following from their conviction on 15 representative charges bought by the Commerce Commission for misleading sales techniques, Youi NZ have now been fined $100,000 by the Insurance Council of New Zealand for breaches of the Fair Insurance Code.
Following a disciplinary process, the ICNZ Board decided on imposing a financial penalty rather than the most severe sanction it could impose, termination of Youi’s membership of ICNZ, but warned Youi that any future misconduct risked their membership being terminated.
My initial thoughts were that Youi got off lightly and should have been expelled, but after considering the comments of the ICNZ President, Chris Black and giving the matter further consideration, I believe that this is the best outcome.
I can certainly understand the logic of the approach taken from ICNZ in that had Youi been expelled, they would no longer be held accountable for the standards set by the ICNZ. Although their actions have brought disrepute onto the insurance industry in New Zealand, they have demonstrated remorse, have made commitments to reviewing and changing its systems, processes and monitoring to prevent a recurrence and are strong supporter of the industry.
The ICNZ made significant changes to strengthen its Fair Insurance Code to raise the standards of service to consumers when it issued the revised Fair Insurance Code early this year. To my knowledge, this is the first time they have imposed a significant penalty on a member for breaches of the code and it is pleasing to see that they are prepared to do this to protect the rights of insureds.
Insurers should brace for an above-average cyclone season due to weakening La Nina conditions in the Pacific Ocean and warmer than average sea temperatures to the north and east, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.
The cyclone season begins next month and ends in April.
The bureau says Australia has a 67% chance of an above-average season, while the west has a 59% chance, the northwest 63%, the north 56% and the east 58%.
In neutral years the first tropical cyclone to make landfall typically occurs in late December, while in La Nina years it usually hits in the first week of December, the bureau says.
Insurance Council of Australia spokesman Campbell Fuller says even an average cyclone season – consisting of 11 events, four of which make landfall – can be devastating.
“An above-average year could bring many more than that, and each one has the potential to cause catastrophic damage if it crosses the coast in a heavily populated area,” he said.
“Only one cyclone made landfall last season, and that was in a sparsely populated part of WA’s Pilbara. There’s no guarantee Australia will be so fortunate this summer.”
Tropical Cyclone Marcia cost insurers $544 million from more than 37,000 claims when it struck Rockhampton in February last year. In 2011 Cyclone Yasi cost insurers $1.4 billion.
Floods are one of the most common hazards in Australia, causing millions of dollars’ worth of property damage each year. Some develop slowly and can be easier to prepare for, while others, such as flash floods, can overwhelm a town in just a few minutes. Floods can be local, impacting only on a neighbourhood or community, or very large, affecting entire river basins and multiple states. The impacts of floods can be devastating for families and businesses alike. Here you will find some information on preparing for floods, what to do during a flood and after the floodwaters recede.
Being prepared for a flood
What would you do if your property was flooded? Are you prepared?
If you live in low-lying areas, near water, in an area prone to wild storms and heavy rain, behind a levee or downstream from a dam, you need to always be prepared for flooding. Even if you live in an area with a low risk of flooding, it’s important to be prepared because anywhere it rains, it can flood.
You can use this flood warning map to see the latest rainfall and river conditions and any flood warnings that have been issued.
Having flood insurance is very important so check your policy or talk to your insurance provider to see if you’re covered.
Other ways to prepare for a flood are:
A global riskDDOS attacks are very common worldwide. Over 15 per cent of UK small businesses were hit by DDOS attacks last year - and they are so easy to launch that even a child can do it.
Mitigating the riskA cyber-policy can protect businesses against the direct costs of cyber-attacks such as lost profits, as well as other costs such as defending claims from third parties.
A four year fight over mouldy homes
It’s often said you should take out insurance for a rainy day. But when a severe hailstorm hit Melbourne on Christmas Day 2011, it created an insurance nightmare for homeowners.
Danny Stone’s property suffered serious water damage and became severely mould-infested. And for three and a half years his insurance company, Resilium, denied his claim.
“I’ve been bed-hopping for over three years,” Danny says, adding that the losses go beyond just the material.
“I’ve lost my home, I’ve lost everything I own inside of it, I’ve lost all my money, I’ve lost a lot of my health and I’ve lost a lot of personal dignity.”
Fortunately he’s recently reached a settlement with Resilium.
But for Era and David McKeown, the battle with their insurer over their own mould-infested home is ongoing, almost five years later.
They’d bought the heritage home in 2011 for $1.4 million, thinking it was their dream home. They took out total replacement cover with AAMI.
When their daughter became sick it was initially diagnosed as asthma. But several months later they discovered the horrendous mould damage that had riddled the house.
“Got the thermographer in,” Era recalls, “and that’s when he came in and found there was 99% trapped moisture in her bedroom, her walls, my son’s walls as well as 86 per cent humidity.”
“It would have been better if the roof had just collapsed,” she adds, “but unfortunately there was damage unknown to us in the slate roof and all the water had gone into the insulation.”
They lodged a claim in July 2012, which began a fight with their insurance company which independent claims expert Professor Allan Manning says may have done great damage.
“To me there were not mitigation strategies put in place," Professor Manning says. "Just a simple thing like putting a tarp over the roof while you work the problem out. If that’d happened, if you’d put a tarp over the roof and then dried the house out with dehumidifiers I don’t think this problem would have exacerbated the way it did... to the point where it’s now gone to litigation.
“I would’ve expected that if a claim of that size had been notified in July, those people would have been back in their home by Christmas.”
Instead, the mould spread, and the house needed to be replaced.
“The building remains uninhabitable and it needs a complete rebuild,” says their lawyer Kim Shaw.
And although their claim was accepted in September of 2012, the McKeowns say that AAMI’s offers have not gone close to covering their costs – in fact it falls millions of dollars short.
“We’re alleging in this case that the insurance company have severely underestimated the cost of rebuilding the McKeowns’ home and the demolishing process that’s required to do that.”
“The stress that’s been created and caused by this on the family and on the children in particular, it’s been nothing short of disgraceful,” David says. “It’s just one of those situations I wouldn’t wish on anybody.”
AAMI’s parent company Suncorp Group, and the McKeowns each provided statements to The Project, which are included below.
Suncorp Group’s statement:
Mould cases are complex and can be exacerbated if not treated immediately. The identification and treatment of mould claims can take some time to resolve and we appreciate this can be frustrating for both customers and us. We are constantly looking at ways to improve how we assess and manage mould claims to ensure our customers receive the assistance they need.
Our business is to help customers in line with the terms and conditions of their policy. The McKeown case is no different.
Despite concerted efforts to resolve this matter over a number of years, the issue is now before the courts because of disagreement over the cost of repairs and contents cover. The McKeowns have authorised us to talk to the media regarding the claim and we can disclose the following facts:
• The McKeowns lodged their claim in July 2012 for water ingress and mould damage. Following expert reports, relating the damage to the 2011 Christmas Day storms in Melbourne, the claim was accepted in September 2012.
• The home and contents policy included replacement cover for the home (home and land purchased in March 2011 for $1.43m) and separately, $140,700 of contents cover.
• AAMI made concerted efforts to engage the customer and appropriate experts in order to resolve the claim throughout this period.
• To date, AAMI has paid on the McKeowns’ claim $1,507,919.18 for reports, building, contents, alternate accommodation, including $785,496 for the building
• In September 2015, the McKeowns’ lawyers, Maurice Blackburn, issued a letter seeking more than $5.2m, in addition to the $1.5m already paid by AAMI.
• The new claim included more than $4m for the home (including $698,720 for the services of Dr Cameron Jones, a microbiologist), approx. $1.17m for contents, nearly $105,000 for out-of-pocket expenses and $703,944 for accommodation.
• AAMI understands that no work has yet been carried out on the property.
Mr Stone has also agreed to allow us to comment on his case and we are pleased to say the matter has been settled in principle.
It’s important for customers who experience water damage from storms to notify their insurer immediately and not delay making a claim. This enables the claim to be handled as quickly as possible to limit further damage caused by mould. In such complex cases, Suncorp obtains independent advice from experts in mould infestation.
In addition, there are no Australian Standards in use for mould remediation and most insurers follow the US Government Mould Standard. Suncorp ensures that the experts it engages are suitably qualified to carry out mould investigation and remediation works. The Australian Mould Guideline to which you refer is published by a private contractor.
Era & David McKeown’s statement:
When we purchased our period home in early 2011, we took out AAMI/Suncorp’s Complete Replacement Building Cover insurance believing it was the best policy on the market. This was not an agreed or market value building policy.
On 13 July 2012, we lodged a building claim with our insurer immediately after a thermographic leak detection assessment revealed trapped water and high humidity in an upstairs bedroom wall and ceiling. This was undertaken on the advice of our GP after our family began suffering respiratory distress and asthma symptoms.
We were instructed by AAMI/Suncorp to leave our home with the clothes on our backs and were put into emergency accommodation. Since then, we have moved to temporary accommodation 24 times and are still not back in our family home.
In our opinion, AAMI/Suncorp could have easily repaired our home at a cost of about $30,000 within the first month of the claim being lodged. We supplied them with three expert roofing reports and quotes for the storm and hail damage, as well as an expert microbiological report with repair recommendations, however they did not accept our building claim until 21 September 2012.
Furthermore, our storm-damaged home was not tarped to prevent any further damage until early November 2012. Still to this date, half of our property has never been tarped, which has resulted in further water damage and mould spreading thorough out the property.
AAMI/Suncorp left our possessions in our storm-damaged home for about four months. Scientific mould testing has confirmed that our belongings are now damaged due to cross contamination of mould. The total cost for us to replace our possessions that were damaged as a result of AAMI/Suncorp’s inaction amounts to $876,174.32.
AAMI/Suncorp guaranteed us in writing that they would provide accommodation support until our home was liveable. Unfortunately, they have not fulfilled this guarantee and we are currently living in one bedroom of a relative’s small apartment, living out of boxes and suitcases, with our children sleeping on mattresses on the floor.
AAMI/Suncorp admitted in writing and has confirmed to us several times since, that total liability under our Complete Replacement Cover Building Policy, our period home now needs to be demolished and a total rebuild of the property is required.
We have never received a payout sum of $1,507,919.18 from AAMI/Suncorp. AAMI/Suncorp has assured us that costs associated with the claim, such as expert reports, accommodation, make safe requirements and contents storage were all covered and would be paid for under our building and contents policies. The insurer also authorised, and in some circumstances encouraged, us to obtain quotes for building works, mould remediation, structural engineers, architects and surveyors, and heritage experts.
Against the advice of these experts, AAMI/Suncorp determined without consultation with us that mould could be eradicated from our home and it could be demolished and rebuilt for $785,496.00. We have never accepted this payout sum given the actual cost of completing the required mould remediation works, and safely demolishing and rebuilding our period home, which has a heritage overlay and is attached to the adjoining properties, has been estimated by our team experts as in excess of $3 million.
We are still more than $100,000 out of pocket for expert reports, relocation costs, accommodation and ongoing storage and utility costs at our home. On top of that our legal fees continue to mount.
We paid AAMI/Suncorp top cover to protect and ensure our home and our belongings, which we had long saved and worked very hard for. Not to destroy them. We just want our family home, possessions and lives back.
Lately there has been a spate of house fires around Australia where the tenant has been uninsured. Having been doing claims for over 45 years now, I have witnessed countless times the devastating effect that not being insured has on someone.
When landlords lease out their commercial premises it is standard practice to at least have the tenant hold public liability insurance. This is a basic risk management measure to protect the landlord from becoming the last resort for most public liability matters, as these issues can often fall back to them as an occupier’s liability rather than a building owner’s responsibility.
With these two issues rolling around in my head, I have come up with 5 major reasons why I believe that all landlords of residential properties should insist and seek proof of their tenants having contents insurance.
Contents insurance is inexpensive for most people. Less than $10 a week for approximately $50,000 of contents cover and as I say typically $20 million of that all-important personal and public liability.
Think about it, you could be helping yourself and your tenant!
The winner of the inaugural QBE-sponsored Stephen Ball Memorial Award for Insurance Broker of the Year is Dale Hansen of Austbrokers Coast to Coast.
QBE Executive General Manager Intermediary Distribution, Jason Clarke, said: “This is a special year for QBE and the NIBA Awards. We’re building on our commitment to fostering the emerging talent in the industry through our long-time sponsorship of the student and trainee of the year awards. We’re also incredibly proud to be sponsoring the peak industry accolade for the first time – the newly renamed Stephen Ball Memorial Awards for Broker of the Year. This award reflects so much of Steve – his integrity, commitment to mentoring, education and professional development, which are captured in the components of the prize.”
The Vero-sponsored Warren Tickle Award for Young Broker of the Year was awarded to Noel Kelly of Austbrokers AEI Transport.
Vero has sponsored the Warren Tickle Memorial Award for the over 25 years.
“Vero recognises the vital importance of nurturing, developing and supporting the young talent that enters our industry. We have long been avid supporters of Australia’s young brokers and we look to their opinions on where our industry is heading in the future,” said Sam Sanfilippo, Head of Suncorp’s International Intermediaries business.
NIBA CEO Dallas Booth says: “It’s a great pleasure to be awarding the first Stephen Ball Memorial Award for Insurance Broker of the Year to Dale, who has set very high standards for his broking business, for his commitment to his clients, his community, and his staff. It was a challenge for the judges this year, with all finalists examples of excellence in insurance broking.”
“Noel has established himself as a very fine young insurance broking professional, who strives for the best and seeks to achieve high levels of support for his clients. Noel is a deserving recipient of the Young Broker of the Year award.
“All Broker of the Year and Young Broker of the Year finalists are exceptional brokers, and it is an honour to be able to recognise and celebrate their hard work. They set a benchmark for the rest of the profession.
“We would also like to thank QBE and Vero for their sponsorship of the two awards.”
At the same time, CGU was crowned General Insurer of the Year.
Booth says: “Congratulations to CGU for winning General Insurer of the Year for the second year running. This award is determined as part of the NIBA Broker Market Survey, where over 1,000 brokers gave their feedback on the performance of insurers in the past 12 months. The award recognises the strong efforts CGU have put in to servicing and supporting brokers and their clients in the past year.”
The Lex McKeown award for 2016 went to Robert Kelly, managing director and CEO of Steadfast.
NIBA President Graham Stevens congratulated Robert on receiving the award. “Robert is very widely acknowledged across the industry as one of the true leaders of this profession. He epitomises the commitment to quality advice and service to customers, and has been a major inspiration for the development and success of the cluster group model in Australia.”
Meanwhile, Maria Parry, of Austcover Queensland, was named Student of the Year. And Veronica Harrison, Oxley Insurance Brokers, NSW, was Trainee of the Year.
Many modern cars, particularly European cars have a service key that is kept in the log book or service book kept in the glove or other compartment in the car.
This is well known to thieves and they are breaking into cars and people do not realise that the key is stolen. When the quarter glass or whatever other damage is repaired by the owner, the thieves return and simply drive off with the repaired car.
I understand that Audi have written to all their customers advising them to take the key out of the car and this is the advice that I am giving to everyone who has this system. The problem is that many car owners do not even know about the service key. In my own car the key it is painted black and was in a separate little pocket in the service book cover. I took it out and put it in a key safe and am glad I did.
The move now is to have the service key as being part of the normal key but can be extracted from the larger day to day key. My car keys have this as well so I am not sure why they have the second separate service key.
My advice therefore is to assume nothing, check your (and in the case of insurance brokers have your clients check their) service and log books for a service key and if you find one take it out of the car and keep it in a safe place.
The number of break-ins into cars is increasing. Following a break-in to my wife’s car a week or so back when 2 other cars in the street were likewise broken into, thieves hit at least one of the cars in our street again last night.
Last time, while our CCTV could not identify the thieves, there were three of them, the thief, a driver and a lookout, I was surprised that the thief was in the car for over 2 minutes and went through it extremely carefully. It was only when I discussed the matter with super insurance investigator Peter Hiscock from Peter Hiscock and Partners that I learned that the service key was the likely target.
This time both my wife’s car and my own were off the street as I had instructed the builders doing some renovations that I needed the driveway cleared which they did. This meant the cars were under a sensor light and CCTV.
Little comfort for the neighbour though. I will be taking over some alarm stickers that I have had made up for her to stick on her car and to see if her vehicle has lost the service key.
Australia is probably the second-most litigious country in the world after the US, according to US management liability specialist Kevin LaCroix.
He says class action filings have surged in the US and are on track this year to reach the highest number since 2004.
Mr LaCroix, Executive Vice President at liability group RT Pro Exec – a division of Chicago-based wholesale brokerage RT Specialty – was a keynote speaker a the Australian Professional Indemnity Group’s conference in Sydney last week.
He says a number of differences exist between the US and Australian class action environments.
Litigation funders have a greater role in Australia and procedural issues are more straightforward, but the “loser pays” principle acts as a deterrent.
“The US is still more litigious, but I think in the rest of the world Australia is probably second – Australia and Canada.”
Class actions have played a role in improving corporate disclosure and provide an effective mechanism for handling large cases such as the Volkswagen emissions issue, he says.
“If you didn’t have a way to handle that collectively, it would be a mess for everyone. Everyone bemoans class action litigation, but it can be very efficient.”
In the US, securities lawsuit filings numbered 119 at the end of June, pointing to a full-year total of 238, which would top the level in 2008 during the global financial crisis, according to Mr LaCroix’s figures.
The previous spike was in 2004, driven by an era of corporate scandals including the failure of Enron.
Mr LaCroix says the latest increase comes amid more actions against foreign companies with US listings, lawsuits related to initial public offerings and case law developments in Delaware.
“All these factors together are contributing,” he told insurance NEWS .com.au. “Unlike the earlier years, it is not one single thing.”
This year high-profile cases have been filed against companies such as Volkswagen and Brazilian oil company Petrobras. Australian miner BHP Billiton faces legal action following the collapse of a dam at its joint-venture project in Brazil.
Mr LaCroix says there is also a trend among some plaintiff law firms to pursue smaller companies, rather than take on the bigger burdens of pursuing large corporates.
“To use a US baseball analogy, they are trying to be singles hitters, rather than home-run hitters.”
He says weakness in premiums is a global issue amid heightened capacity and competition in the sector, and which is unlikely to disappear quickly because insurers remain reluctant to lift rates.
“There is a restraining effect on the desire of insurers to raise their rates. In the end, the ability to be the one disciplined player in an undisciplined market is very difficult.”
There is no doubt that the last 5-10 years has seen massive changes in technology and hand-in-hand with that the increased take-up of social media by individuals and by businesses as an effective marketing tool.
I would also suggest that almost everyone that has a Facebook or Twitter account has their own stories of “Posts” and “Tweets” that they would prefer were not in the public domain. In most cases they were put there not of their own making but were the result of others “friends” making comments on their page or account. Many of course have “posted” or “tweeted”; thought about what they have said, and upon reflection have thought they probably shouldn’t have said it – but it’s there for all to see.
This lack of consideration of consequences; naivety; a desire to express individual’s views, and often the need for revenge can have disastrous consequences on businesses and staff. This can often be the case with staff members who for whatever reason decide that they want to make public their views of other staff members and indeed their employers. For some it’s a quick and easy way to “vent” or exact revenge upon a person or an organisation. These comments can damage the reputation of a business, or it can result in bullying and harassment claims.
The Damaging Facebook Campaign
Most notably is the recent case of a Club in Brisbane where staff were not happy about being transferred to a labour hire company as the basis of their employment with the Club. Some of the disgruntled staff, with the assistance of other organisations started up a Facebook campaign page under the guise of a campaign against reduced penalty rates. Regardless of the truth surrounding all of the claims and counterclaims, that Club became the centre of this public campaign.
There were many disparaging posts and comments made by former staff, current staff and people who, in my view had no idea what the real issues were, but were happy to jump on the bandwagon. There is no doubt that the Club suffered considerable damage, if not to its reputation then certainly in the costs to mount a publicity defence against the Facebook campaign. One need only ponder if this sort of campaign would have been likely and as easily orchestrated 10 or 15 years ago when Facebook did not exist as it does now.
There has of course, been many cases in the Fair Work Commission (FWC) and other Tribunals and Courts that have had to deal with the fall-out from social media outcomes. These cases started in about 2011 with the infamous “Linfox” case where the employee pleaded ignorance and naivety in respect Facebook posts about the Company and other managers and colleagues. In this case it was found that the employee had been unfairly dismissed for a number of reasons, including upholding of the plea of ignorance as to how his Facebook page worked, as well as the fact that there was not a Social Media Policy in place at Linfox at the time to provide the employee with guidance as to what was acceptable or otherwise.
There are numerous cases where people have taken unfair dismissal claims resulting from termination because of social media comments, some have been successful and others not, and commentators have clearly indicated the lack of consistency from the FWC in their deliberations about social media matters.
This was demonstrated in the most recent case involving Centrelink when they dismissed a staff member who had publicly posted that Centrelink customers were “spastics” and “whinging junkies” and taking aim at the Government. In this case the dismissal was held to be unfair by Vice-President Hatcher of the FWC because of the employee’s extensive length of service of 20 years; that the conduct was not factually related to his work; and that the conduct caused no harm to the Department.
In spite of a perception of inconsistency arising from the FWC approach to these issues, there are some consistent principles that are critical for a dismissal of this kind to be upheld by the FWC. They are:
1. That it is important for the employer to have a clear policy on employees’ use of social media, covering what is and is not acceptable use (including examples) and setting out the consequences for misuse;
2. That the social media content must clearly identify the employer;
3. That the content must have the capacity to damage the employer’s reputation and business;
4. As knowledge and use of social media continue to expand rapidly, the ability of employees to argue they were unaware of how to control the use of it will diminish.
Need for Social Media Policy
It is absolutely critical to have a Social Media Policy in place before an employer can attempt to defend a dismissal based on inappropriate use of social media. The Policy needs to be a quality document that has application to your workplace. Here are some tips:
(a)It must be robust and is clear to the staff as to what is expected and what will not be tolerated in respect to social media, including the reference to the “Like” button;
(b)It must be a policy that is clearly understood;
(c)It must be properly communicated to all staff as part of an induction and refresher process;
(d)Ideally it should be referenced to your Bullying and Harassment and Anti-discrimination policies so that there is a clear link “cyber-bulling”
The bottom-line for businesses is, if you don’t have a social media policy in place, then you risk not being able to defend any disciplinary action that you take against staff who may have potentially damaged your business.
If you would like some help in drafting and implementing an effective Social Media Policy in your organisation, please don’t hesitate to call us at Effective Workplace Solutions
Travel insurers do not usually cover losses caused by army coups, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) says.
It has urged Australian tourists affected by the failed military uprising in Turkey to check their policies.
“Each travel insurer has different terms and conditions,” CEO Rob Whelan said.
“Travellers should review their policy document to check its inclusions and exclusions, and contact their insurer if they have questions.
“The attempted coup doesn’t void travel insurance policies, and policyholders in Turkey will still be able to lodge claims for a wide range of losses that are unrelated to the uprising.”
Travel policies usually contain exclusions on claims arising from riots, wars, rebellions, civil unrest or military insurrections.
Turkey has been rocked by political instability as President Tayyip Erdogan orders a crackdown on suspected supporters of Friday’s failed coup.
As reported in the latest edition of Risk Management magazine, many of us now use our smartphone to provide a single point of access to personal information such as financial data, medical records, photos and videos, as well as work-related email, calendars, documents and other business information. Unfortunately, hackers know this and far too many people have inadequate security on their phone. Hackers naturally see the phone as a way in.
The image at the end of this post is a screen shot of a message a professional photographer who I know received, which turned out to be completely bogus. I am glad he contacted me before doing anything.
To learn more about this real threat and mitigation strategies, I would refer you to the full article which can be found here . I have taken something away from this article which I will now ensure is actioned at LMI Group.
Never just assume that everything you own is covered under your policy. We take a look at what you should look out for!
On behalf of the team here at Austbrokers Coast to Coast I would like to thank you for your continued support of our business.
At a Gala Awards Ceremony in Sydney last Wednesday 31/8/16, Austbrokers Coast to Coast were announced winners of the Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance (ANZIIF) Insurance Brokerage of the Year for 2016.
Without the loyalty and continued support of our clients we would not have been able to win this prestigious award.
Whether you are a longstanding client or have only recently become a client, I would personally like to thank you for placing your trust in the team at Coast to Coast to manage your insurance needs.
With sincere thanks,Dale Hansen
Youi will plead guilty to misconduct charges, including making false sales pitches, filed by the New Zealand Commerce Commission.
The commission, New Zealand’s competition watchdog, filed 15 charges against the insurer in the Auckland District Court last week following a year-long investigation into allegations of unscrupulous sales tactics.
The South African-owned insurer is alleged to have committed the acts between July 2014 and February this year.
“Youi has co-operated with the commission’s investigation and has indicated it intends to plead guilty to the charges,” the commission says in a statement. “As this matter is before the court, the commission cannot comment further at this time.”
A spokesman for the commission told insuranceNEWS.com.au a date for the court hearing will be known in coming weeks.
Youi allegedly failed to inform customers they are not obliged to pay for unsolicited insurance invoices and gave false or misleading information during sales phone calls.
People requesting policy quotes were told they needed to provide credit card and bank account details, and unauthorised direct debits were then made from the accounts.
“From the point the issues were brought to our attention we co-operated fully with the commission and speedily implemented changes to our business practices that had fallen short of customer expectations, service standards and legal requirements,” Youi CEO Danie Matthee said. “We unreservedly apologised to all affected customers.”
Youi has notified the Insurance Council of New Zealand about actions taken to improve procedures.
While there are many very reputable firms in motor trade there is a criminal element operating in Victoria in particular.
One of the many scams is staged accidents, often involving an innocent woman who is driving alone. The third party then offers to have the car fixed by a friend who turns out to be a crooked panel beater who charges way over the top, the third party disappears and the innocent motorist is left with a huge bill.
In one case, the innocent people were beaten when they said they were going to the police.
Other cases involve a lawyer who writes with supporting documentation from the same dodgy panel beater again claiming way over the true value.
The whole thing is well known in the panel beating industry. One of my team had someone run up the back of his Ford tray utility vehicle in their BMW. There appeared to be no damage but to be sure, took it to a panel beater and asked that he put it up on the hoist to see if there was any damage. The panel beater came back and said that there was none but if he wanted to have some he should take his car to “X” panels.
If you are or know anyone involved in an accident, my recommendation is that you do not take your car anywhere other than an authorised panel beater of your insurer, or if there is an insurer for a responsible third party to their authorised repairer.
Do not just rely on the third party sending you to a “mate”.
The whole situation is taking the sheen off the panel beating industry and tarnishing the reputation of the many good folk that own and work in it. It certainly needs to be addressed by the insurance industry and the police as soon as possible.
The panel beater that I personally trust and find does exceptionally good work is Mr Gloss at Moorabbin who is an authorised repairer for many insurers.
This September marks the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London which led to both modern property insurance and fire brigades as we know them. I intend on writing an extended piece for this blog and am currently working on a coffee table book with my son, which will come out closer to the September anniversary.
Just as important, in my opinion, is the fact it is the 250th anniversary of the court case that led to the enshrining of the principle of Utmost Good Faith into insurance. The case we owe this to is Carter v. Boehm (1766), 3 Burr. 1905
In the course of his judgement, the famous. Lord Mansfield stated:
“Insurance is a contract upon speculation. The special facts, upon which the contingent chance is to be computed, lie most commonly in the knowledge of the insured only: the underwriters trusts to his representation, and proceeds upon confidence that he does not keep back any circumstance in his knowledge, to mislead the underwriter into a belief that the circumstance does not exist, and to induce him to estimate the risk, as if it did not exist.
“The keeping back such circumstance is a fraud, and therefore the policy is void. Although the suppression should happen through mistake, without any fraudulent intention, yet still the underwriter is deceived, and the policy is void, because the risk run is really different from the risk understood and intended to be run, at the time of the agreement.
“The policy would be equally void, against the underwriter if he concealed; as, if he insured a ship on her voyage, which he privately knew to be arrived; and an action would lie to recover the premium.
“The governing principle is applicable to all contracts and dealings. Good faith forbids either party, by concealing what he privately knows, to draw the other into a bargain, from his ignorance of the fact and his believing and the contrary.
“But either party may be innocently silent, as to grounds open to both, to exercise their judgement upon… There are many matters as to which the insured may be innocently silent. He need not mention what the underwriter knows… An underwriter cannot insist that the policy is void because the insured did not tell him what he actually knew; what way soever he came to the knowledge. The insured need not mention what the underwriter ought to know; what he takes upon himself the knowledge of; or what he waives being informed of. The underwriter needs not to be told what lessens the risk agreed and understood to be run by the express terms of the policy. He needs not to be told general topics of speculation…”
In this first case it was found that the insurer had not acted in good faith and the client was entitled to have their claim paid.
While the Insurance Contracts Act,  (Cth of Australia) reaffirmed that this principle is the cornerstone of the insurance industry, I question when I see extremely low ball offers of settlement made to an insured, decisions to delay payments to force an insured into accepting a lower settlement, the events leading up to the portrayal of our industry around some investigators and the handling of life insurance claims, ignoring conflicts of interest, and if we are honest with ourselves what are in effect hidden commissions, if Utmost Good Faith is being given anything but lip service on the one hand but being held as something that the insured must exhibit at every turn on the other.
To examine these issues and others surrounding them to me is a vitally important underlying principle of insurance, barrister Greg Pynt from Perth and I are underwriting a one off special conference in Bengkulu, Sumatra (Indonesia) on 1 & 2 October. This location was chosen as it is very near the location of the loss which gave rise to the Carter v Boehm case. [A visit to the restored structure ( a fort) will be part of the event.]
A range of excellent speakers including Prof Robin Pearson from Hull University is being put together. Greg is up in Bengkulu this week to make sure all the logistics are in place for a smooth running of the event. While Greg and I are behind the conference and underwriting it from a cost perspective, the conference is being organised by Conference Images a company well known to many readers.
The cost of the conference which includes registration, tour speakers, lunches and dinners is a very reasonable $850 plus GST. To learn more please down load the Bengkulu Flyer or go to www.CartervBoehm.com
. Finally Greg or I are happy to take your enquiries.
The concept behind this website is that it will remain active in perpetuity with papers from the conference, photos and videos of the presentations available for use into the future and hopefully reviewed at the 300th and other milestone anniversaries of this seminal case. Obviously other papers and items of interest on the topic will be added to the proposed knowledge data base.
The final point I would make is that Greg and I are not doing this for any financial gain. It is purely for educational and research purposes for the benefit of attendees, the wider insurance community and for future generations of insurance professionals. If the conference runs at a loss we will bear the cost equally between the two of us. If it runs at a profit, all profit will be donated to an education facility in or near Bengkulu to benefit the youth of that community.
Please come along. It will be a most interesting and informative event.
Here is a video interview from the Director of a company that was destroyed by cyber attack, please take the time to watch this, it could be your business!
The following article was published in the Gold Coast Bulletin following our ANZIIF nomination for broker of the year. We are very proud that we are a finalist for the prestigious award:
BURLEIGH BASED insurance broker Austbrokers Coast to Coast is in the running for a national award.
The company, headed by Nigel King and Dale Hansen, is a finalist in the 2016 Australian Insurance Industry Awards in the Small Broking Company of the Year category.
It is the only Gold Coast and Queensland finalist in the national awards.
The small broking category is highly competitive and offered to brokerages that have demonstrated strong performance and outstanding service for their customers.
"The brokers that reach the finalist stage must be truly exceptional," CEO of the Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance, Prue Willsford, said.
"Austbrokers Coast to Coast is a brokerage that strives for excellence."
The winners will be announced in Sydney of August 31.
El Nino is officially over, with the Bureau of Meteorology confirming tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures and trade winds have returned to a neutral state.
The weather phenomenon usually brings high temperatures and low rainfall to large areas of Australia, and the latest event was one of the strongest on record.
The bureau says there is little chance of a comeback for this El Nino, and six out of eight international climate models suggest the opposite phenomenon, La Nina, is likely to form between now and August.
La Nina is associated with above-average winter/spring rainfall over northern, central and eastern Australia, and tends to have a greater impact on insurers due to the prevalence of flooding.
Climate models also suggest a negative Indian Ocean Dipole event is likely this winter, which typically brings increased rainfall to southern Australia.
The El Nino had dramatic effects in Australia and across the world, including an early start to the fire season, which led to devastating blazes in Victoria, SA, WA and Tasmania.
Large areas of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, which had not seen fire for centuries, were severely damaged.
In Queensland, fewer clouds and less tropical rain helped create conditions for the most severe Great Barrier Reef coral-bleaching event on record.
However, El Nino also contributed to a record low number of tropical cyclones during the northern wet season.
Just three were recorded, with the previous record being five in 1987/88 and 2006/07 – both El Nino years.
It's nearly that time of the year again when the Fair Work Commission will hand down the increase the Minimum Wage (FMW). This will mean that all Award rates of pay will increase by the increase that is pronounced. As is always the case, the announcement is expected in early to mid-June with an operative date of the first pay period on or after 1 July 2016.
How much will the increase be?
As is always the case, the peak Employer bodies and the Unions are "poles-apart" on their submissions for the increase. Employers are arguing for a modest 1.2% increase, while the ACTU submits that the increase should be a flat $30.00 per week I have long given up on trying to accurately predict the increase, however the trend since I can recall has been that the increase is about .5% -1% higher than the current CPI figure. In the last 5 years or so, the increase has been between 2.5% and just under 3%. CPI is currently running at about 1.3 - 1.5%. The recent interest rate cut by the RBA may also have an impact on the outcome.
So I'm going to hazard a guess and suggest that the increase will be between 2.3% and 2.5% - the lowest for a long time. But don’t be surprised if the increase is a flat dollar amount because we have had 5 years of percentage increases which results in an expansion in the range of wages, and the FWC may want to curb that expansion this year.
Do I have to pay the increase?
The question I'm often asked at this time is "Do I have to pass on the increase to my staff?" The short answer is yes; if you pay your staff under the Award.
However, if you pay your staff wages or salaries over the Award, then it may well be that you can absorb any increase into that over-Award payment. But much will depend upon the employment contract or letter of appointment that you have with the staff member and how the over-Award payment is expressed in those documents.
If you would like further information in relation to this issue, and whether the FMW increase can be absorbed into above Award payments, please do not hesitate to contact us.
"Since the writing of the article, the Fair Work Commission have announced a 2.4% increase in Award wages operative from 1 July 2016. If you would like information as to the application of this increase, and whether or not it can be absorbed into over-Award payments, please contact Effective Workplace Solutions"
One thing is becoming clear about cyber risks: the problem is much bigger than any organization’s information technology department.
My background as an IT leader and information security professional before I joined XL Catlin gives me a good vantage point on how businesses can make the mistake of thinking that cyber risk begins – and ends – with their technology operations. Regardless of a company’s size and resources, IT operations play a critically important role in cybersecurity. But the total cost of cyber risk affects the entire enterprise, and a cyber incident frequently causes problems that no IT professional, however talented, can solve.
Business continuity, third-party liability, reputational damage and regulatory compliance – those are beyond the purview of IT. A well-run IT department can minimize downtime and get systems back up, which is critical. The value of data and the cost of a disruption, however, are ultimately determined by the data owners in the business operations. While a system shutdown can be catastrophic for some organizations, business interruption and data recovery insurance are available to mitigate that risk. Regulations regarding cyber security are evolving, and insurance is available to manage that uncertainty too.
"The complexity of responding to a cyber incident and communicating with stakeholders are strong reasons to have a team, such as an executive control group."
But the business itself must communicate with its employees, customers, investors and perhaps regulators, after an incident. If a data breach has occurred, a forensic investigation and notification of affected parties are likely required. A strong, unified message is critical to convey, and that is best delivered with the help of senior executives and crisis communication professionals. One of the valuable benefits of cyber insurance is access to expert resources, from PR to forensics to IT specialists, who can quickly come in to assist.
The complexity of responding to a cyber incident and communicating with stakeholders are strong reasons to have a team, such as an executive control group. The composition of such a team depends on the size of the entity and the nature of its business. In larger organizations, it likely will include enterprise risk management staff as well as C-level leaders, such as the chief technology or chief information officer. For smaller and midsize organizations, the team might include the general counsel, chief operating officer and the head of IT, for example. Regardless of the specific titles, the functions that need to come together to discuss cyber risk include risk management, operations, IT, legal, marketing and communications. Ideally, a cyber risk steering committee or group is convened to ensure that all relevant areas of the organization are represented and kept informed. The job of managing cyber risk shouldn’t fall to one person, however; a cyber risk team can ensure that the entire organization understands the risk and adjusts procedures accordingly.
It’s important to think about cyber insurance as similar to property or commercial general liability – as a form of protection that your organization needs to continue operating.
Midsize companies have particular challenges when it comes to cyber risk. Often they have fewer IT resources, which makes them attractive targets for cyber attacks. Statistics on cyber attacks bear this out. The 2015 Cyber Claims Study from risk assessment firm NetDiligence found that 71% of cyber claims came from organizations with less than $2 billion in revenue, and 56% came from those firms with less than $300 million.
Many midsize companies also have contractual requirements with bigger organizations that increase their need for high cyber insurance limits. Based on their own perceived exposure, a midsize organization might not think it needs to purchase a lot of cyber insurance coverage, but that situation can change if a business relationship requires it. The lesson here is to look closely at your business and all risks relating to your systems and networks. How long could your firm afford to remain offline, if a cyber incident disrupted your IT operations? Could your company lose revenue or customers if that happened? Would you be able to meet your obligations to business partners?
There is a lot to understanding and managing cyber risk. A team approach is a good way to cover the bases, as well as working with expert resources and strong insurance partners to help protect your business.
About the Author
Sean M. Donahue is assistant vice president and underwriter, Cyber and Technology Insurance, at XL Catlin. Before joining XL Catlin in 2014, he was an information technology professional and holds the designations of Certified Information Systems Security Professional and Certified Ethical Hacker.
It is indisputable that the provision of free information and free services online is continuing its meteoric rise and the provision of legal services is no different.
Generally speaking, these free online legal services seem to fall roughly within 3 categories:
1. Giving of legal advice over the internet through Q&A style forum
Of perhaps most concern are those forums where answers are not even provided by a lawyer but by members themselves. The members are then ranked or given points by whether the recipient (who is in no real position to know if the answer is accurate or not) found the answer helpful. Obtaining legal advice from a person without proper legal training and experience (no matter how well intentioned that person is and how confident that person sounds in their answer) is a recipe for disaster.
Even for those forums where “lawyers” are giving the answers (and what checks are carried out to ensure they are current lawyers entitled to practise), there is such limited scope for that lawyer to obtain proper details about the issues, that the risks of the advice not being appropriate or insufficient are still quite high.
Of the sites that were reviewed for the preparation of this article, it became quite apparent that many answers are either so vague as to be unhelpful or just plain wrong.
In fact, the United Kingdom’s Guardian has previously published an article about “Law on the Web” (self-proclaimed “UK’s biggest source of Information”) which article is located at
Referring to one piece of advice given by that website, the Guardian article stated “ This is just wrong in ways that may well leave a landlord relying on it in something of a mess ” and “ Again, with a heavy sigh, this is just wrong. ”
Then “ So, even from this sample, it is clear that the 'legal advice' provided is sometimes vague and imprecise to the point of being useless. At worst it is downright inaccurate in ways that may cause substantial problems for anyone, landlord or tenant, who relied upon it.“
So if you are given legal advice on one of these forums and the advice is wrong, then you would be entitled to seek any damage you suffer from the lawyer who gave that advice, however practically speaking how do you do that? There are simply insufficient details to allow you to properly identify the lawyer (to allow you to take the action), so you are left in the hope that the website provider will provide these details (and we don’t like your chances….).
2. Provision of Legal Documents
Whilst on a brief review, some of the documents provided on these websites do at least provide a basic level of detail – any proficient lawyer knows the real devil is in the detail.
Looking at a partnership agreement for example, whilst some online partnership agreements appear to provide at least a basic level of competent detail, they simply do not go far enough in encapsulating the expectations and assumptions the partners may have in the partnership (such as the agreed roles and time commitments of the partners and any authority stipulations, whether each partner’s time is to be valued equally etc – all rich sources of potential future disputes for the partners).
Then there is the lack of advice and warning about the terms. For example, some online partnership agreements contain provisions that “time is of the essence” with absolutely no warning about what that means. Put briefly, it means that if one partner fails to comply with an obligation on that partner under the agreement by the time stated in the agreement the other partner(s) has/have a right to terminate the partnership agreement (and seek damages for any loss those non-defaulting partners suffer as a consequence of the termination) without allowing the defaulting partner the chance to remedy their default. That might be useful for the partners to know, before they sign that agreement!!
So coupling the lack of detail in the documents with the lack of advice about the terms and effect of the documents, is in our view a disaster waiting to happen.
3. Online Referral
Finally, there is the online lawyer referral service. Sometimes these services have managed to locate the “best” solicitor in your area and sometimes that lawyers has agreed to provide their services at a fixed price.
Sometimes the websites promise that the lawyers have in fact been “handpicked” and that the lawyers are the best in the legal industry. When did such flagrant advertising in the legal industry become acceptable? Yes, there might have been an interview process and yes, not all applicants might have been accepted, but how can it possibly be asserted that the lawyers they picked are the best in the legal industry?
We are often approached by such organisations asking us to join them and they will list our services (and of course there is a fee). We decline to participate, however if we had joined does that mean we are entitled to be held out to the public at large as the best in the industry?
Whilst some of the Law Firms on these websites are in fact very reputable firms with very competent lawyers, would they themselves represent to people that they are the best in the industry?? We would think not. Those claims are certainly not made on the websites of those participating firms that we checked. If you are in fact the best in the industry, wouldn’t you want people visiting your website to know that?
When it comes to the fixed price service, it then appears that some of these “best lawyers” can offer the service at a fixed price some 25% of the other “best lawyers”. Assuming for the sake of the argument that they are all the best lawyers in the industry and that each will give you a level of care expected from the best lawyers in the legal industry (so the products will all be comparable you would assume), why are some of the lawyers charging 4 times as much as others??
In truth, these websites are nothing more than a flagrant advertising service for those lawyers, making claims those lawyers themselves are not prepared to make on their own websites. Whilst the notion of fixed cost services is no doubt attractive to some people, most lawyers will be prepared to negotiate a fixed price for the types of services these websites offer (ie the production of a draft pro forma agreement).
Do not get caught up in the hype of these websites. Recognise these sites for what they are. If you cannot trust their fundamental promise that the lawyers they have located are the best in the legal industry, how can you have any faith in the site at all and those people involved.
We recommend that you always seek a referral for law firms by word of mouth, from someone that you know and trust. Otherwise, contact the Law Society for your state.
Trade credit risk for Australian businesses has never been higher, according to specialist trade credit insurance broker NCI.
NCI’s latest Trade Credit Risk Index Score for the first quarter of 2016 was characterised by some large insolvency activity, including My Baby Warehouse, Dick Smith and mining and steel manufacturer Arrium Ltd.
The Index also reveals an 80% increase in claims lodged in the first quarter of 2016 when compared to the same period a year ago, while advertising, building and hardware businesses had the highest value of claims received.
Further insolvencies are being predicted by NCI, given the high level of overdue reporting.
"The slowdown in the economic environment, especially in mining services and retail sales has had an impact on many of our customer's clients," Kirk Cheeseman, Managing Director of NCI, told Broker Buzz . "The January-to-end-of-March period is seasonally a peak period for insolvency, but the first quarter of 2016 has definitely been an increase on prior years."
Outlining why the advertising, building and hardware sectors have been particularly hard hit, Cheesman added: "Any large insolvency, such as Dick Smith, or retail brands, normally have a media or advertising credit insurance loss attached to it.
"The building and hardware industries link to building contractors, home builders, electricians, plumbers and other mining services companies whom all have struggled over the past six months. Hence the level of insolvencies at the lower end of the contracting or building food chain where margins are extremely fine have been hit."
Looking ahead to the rest of the year, Cheesman suggests the outlook is "murky rather than gloomy".
"Our statistics are showing a high level of defaults in overdue payments and collection activity. Where there is an increase in these actions, typically it will result in a higher level of insolvency activity in to the next six to 12 months," he said.
"However it is a good time for businesses to review their customers and the credit levels they are granting to ensure their customers have the facilities and capability to cope with tough economic conditions and have a good level of capital support to get them through the harder times."
The 12 year old plaintiff was an outstanding young swimmer. Just prior to the incident, she was age champion at her school and in the District, was a multiple medalist at Regional and State levels, had appeared in the top 10 age rankings at National level in four events, and was expected to compete in at least four events in the Australian Age Nationals later that year.
On 7 January 2008, the plaintiff was undertaking a training program at Lithgow Memorial Swimming Pool which was managed by Lithgow City Council ( council ). The plaintiff was training with two friends, Tom and Jordan Brodie, under the supervision of their father ( Mr Brodie ). The training program was written by her coach ( Mr Critoph ) who was the swimming coach of Kinross Wolaroi School ( school ), however, as he was away at the time he gave the program to Mr Brodie to implement with his two sons and the plaintiff.
The training program involved each swimmer diving 10 times from the deep end and 10 times from the shallow end. When commencing her second dive, but first dive from the shallow end, the plaintiff's foot slipped in what may have been a puddle of water and she collided with the bottom of the pool, rendering her tetraplegic. The plaintiff had dived from the concourse (not a diving block), and was standing near, or on, a ' no diving' sign.
The plaintiff was undertaking a track-start' dive, taught by Mr Critoph, which involved placing one foot on the edge of the concourse/block with toes gripping its edge, and placing the second foot some 50-60cm to the rear. Swimmers then lean down, placing hands at the edge of the concourse/block, and then propel themselves into the water using both hands and feet. At the time of the incident, the plaintiff would have performed track-dives on hundreds, but more probably thousands, of occasions.
The plaintiff subsequently claimed damages in negligence against the school, having a non-delegable duty of care for its servant/agent (Mr Brodie while supplementing Mr Critoph’s role), on the basis that it failed to conduct an inspection or risk assessment of the pool 'in respect of its suitability to be used for swimming training exercises involving dive entry into the shallow end' when there were non-coping tiles, for failing to warn the plaintiff of the risk of injury in performing 'track-start' dives, and failing to teach the plaintiff how to abort the dive to avoid injury. None of the allegations referred to any provisions of the Civil Liability Act 2003 (Qld) ( CLA ).
The plaintiff also claimed damages against the council for failing to prohibit dives from the shallow end of the pool (under the supervision of Mr Brodie or otherwise), and failing to have a sign that read 'Warning: Dive Entries Permitted by Trained Swimmer Under Coach’s Supervision Only' in accordance with SU22, the supervisory guideline issued by Royal Life Saving Society Australia ( RLSSA ).
The trial judge gave a verdict in favour of the plaintiff against the school on the basis that it was unreasonable that the school encouraged the plaintiff to use the ' track-start' dive at the shallow end of the pool, especially when gripping coping tiles were lacking.
The plaintiff, however, failed against the council as it would not have been reasonable for the council to be aware of the increased risk associated with ' track-start' dives, the difference between 'track-start' or other dives, or of the importance of gripping coping tiles.
The plaintiff appealed the decision against the council. The school also appealed.
The following issues were considered:
Appeal against the council
The Court of Appeal considered the RLSSA guidelines, expert evidence, and academic literature from the Department of Education and Training and Department of Local Government regarding the plaintiff's allegation that the council ought to have been aware of an increased risk of executing 'track-start' dives and the importance of the coping tiles.
The Court of Appeal found that the plaintiff failed to establish that the council was, or ought reasonably to have been, aware of the literature, and that there was nothing in the literature that would have alerted the council to the increased risk of the track-start dive or coping tiles in any event.
The Court of Appeal also found that pursuant to SU22 of the RLSSA, the absence of any warning sign had no relevance to the plaintiff as a trained competitive swimmer.
The plaintiff’s appeal against the council was dismissed.
The Court of Appeal was critical that the plaintiff made no allegations pursuant to the CLA, such as whether the risk of harm was reasonably foreseeable to the school for the purposes of s 5B of the CLA. The importance of pleadings and submissions was emphasised.
The Court of Appeal found:
Lessons to be learned
This decision demonstrates that even in the event that the plaintiff’s foot was found to have slipped on the tiles whilst attempting to execute a ' track-start' dive, it did not automatically follow that the tiles were defective or unsuitable or that a risk assessment would have identified any risk which could have prevented the incident from occurring. There was also no evidence to suggest that the plaintiff could have been trained to abort a dive gone wrong, or that she would have done so on the day of the incident. Further, just because literature is available that provides commentary and recommendations regarding diving, it does not automatically follow that being aware of the literature could have prevented the incident from occurring.
Public liability insurers ought to consider whether the availability of guidelines and expert opinion, lack of site inspections and risk assessments, and any failure to train is likely to impact whether the incident would have occurred in any event.
Please join us in congratulating Dale Hansen for achieving this prestigious award. Insurance Business Magazine will go to print this month with their top 10 insurance brokers across Australia of which Dale has been included, recognising his commitment to the industry and his business.
The Insurance Business Elite Brokers ranking system is an objective means of ranking the best-performing insurance brokers in the country – not just those with the biggest portfolios or the largest clients.
Of particular interest was a discernible correlation between the level of satisfaction and the depth of the service provided by surveyed clients’ brokers. The Index reports that, generally, the brokers with highly satisfied clients provided service extending beyond the basics. More specifically, it found that brokers with highly satisfied clients were far more likely to provide an in-depth analysis of all of the options available to those clients, and to provide information on changes to insurance and/or regulatory requirements.
The following article reminds us of the importance of making sure we are correctly insured for all aspects of storm damage including flood. Please contact us if you have any concerns about your cover.
The Bureau of Meteorology says there is a 50% chance a La Nina weather system will develop later this year, bringing with it above-average rainfall and the prospect of floods.
The current El Nino continues to weaken, with Pacific Ocean temperatures falling fast, and the likelihood is increasing of it moving straight into the opposite La Nina effect.
While El Nino generally brings drier, warmer conditions to Australia, La Nina is associated with much higher catastrophe losses for insurers.
Five out of eight surveyed models suggest a La Nina is likely, with three neutral, while continuing record Indian Ocean warmth is expected to provide extra moisture for rain systems crossing Australia in the autumn.
However, the bureau warns forecasts at this time of year can be inaccurate, with a clearer picture likely to emerge in coming months.
For Australian consumers who bought Patties brand Nanna’s and Creative Gourmet mixed frozen berries early last year, the risk of hepatitis A also allegedly came with the purchase. The berries were linked with 31 cases of this serious illness and the resulting product recall in February 2015 wiped more than AU$14 million from the annual profits of Patties Foods.
The Patties Foods berry scandal was a warning to all companies to pay closer attention to supply chain quality control. But it also highlighted the serious financial risks associated with product recalls and was a red flag for many companies to consider purchasing product recall insurance.
RECALLS ON THE RISE
The complexities of an increasingly global supply chain, coupled with a tightening of product safety regulations around the world are leading to a rise in product recalls.
In 2014, there were more than 500 product recalls in Australia and this year is already proving to be a busy one. In the first two weeks of 2016 hoverboards, dining chairs and motorcycles were being removed from sale due to dangerous potential faults.
In the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 803 separate vehicle recalls in 2014. In New Zealand, there were 27 food recalls in 2014 compared with 13 the year before. Companies in China carried out 72 consumer product recalls; however, its product recall system covers limited categories and is currently under review in order to enhance customer safety, China Daily says.
It’s not just the lesser-known brands that are suffering recall issues. Leading electrical goods company Samsung is tracking down 144,451 washing machines (with 45,047 currently unaccounted for) that have been responsible for 252 fires and other incidents in Australia since 2013. Supermarkets in New Zealand removed packets of Beehive Shaved Champagne Ham from their shelves in December 2015 over fears they could contain listeria. In the US and Canada, popular label Lululemon recalled 318,000 women’s tops in June 2015 as their elastic drawstrings were deemed at risk of causing harm to wearers. Meanwhile, Volkswagen’s recent and highly publicised recall and refit of 11 million cars worldwide will be among the biggest product recalls in history.
HOW PRODUCT RECALLS WORK
In most cases it is the supplier that initiates a recall (under Australian consumer law ‘suppliers’ include manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers). They are required to notify in writing the Commonwealth Minister responsible for consumer affairs within two days of initiating the recall. They must cease production and distribution and remove unsafe products from the marketplace. They are also required to notify the public through avenues such as advertising or social media announcements and to inform those within their domestic supply chainn some instances, product recalls are initiated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
“The ACCC can either guide or attempt to convince a supplier that a recall would be desirable,” explains Kieran O’Brien, Partner with law firm DLA Piper. “Of course, there can be situations where the regulator says they are going to institute a direct mandatory recall. That’s rare, but it has the power to do so, and so it should because there can always be an organisation that just doesn’t listen.
“A manufacturer or supplier that allows matters to get to that stage clearly leaves itself open to sanctions down the track."
INSURANCE IN A RECALL CRISIS
For companies not large enough to self-insure, product recall insurance is increasingly viewed as a strategic purchase and a key feature of an overall risk management policy. While public liability insurance covers third-party losses arising from bodily injury or property damage, product recall insurance predominately covers a company’s own losses, including business interruption caused by reputational damage or the loss of gross profits, usually for a period of 12 months.
Product recall insurance also covers the cost of recalling products and may cover rehabilitation expenses, such as the advertising costs associated with restoring consumer confidence and the cost of promotional offers. In most instances, it also includes the cost of crisis consultants and public relations advisers to help mitigate reputational damage associated with product recalls.
Michael Lincoln, Underwriting Manager, Crisis Management Solutions at Liberty International Underwriters, says some product liability insurance products provide product recall extensions. However, he describes them as the “poor cousin” of market-leading Product Recall Insurance. “It may provide either first- or third-party recall costs, but does not cover what is commonly the most expensive parts of a recall, such as replacement costs and business interruption,” he says.
Tony Parington, Director and Underwriter at Sterling Insurance, says coverage largely depends on the circumstances surrounding a product recall. “You have to look at the trigger,” he says. “Imagine if you were to produce bottled water and it’s perfectly safe but the colour of the water was not the prettiest. You want to distribute it all over town but you realise that no one is going to buy it because of the colour. In that scenario, if that water cannot harm anyone and it’s just an aesthetic thing, there’s no claim. That’s a commercial loss to your business.”
ANALYSING THE RISK
Product recall is a risk faced by any company that manufactures, imports or distributes consumable or non-consumable goods. Jae Ramsbotham, Senior Underwriter Crisis Management at AIG, says analysing this risk is a significant task for underwriters. “We need to thoroughly analyse the company’s operations and processes and the exposures pertinent to the industry,” she says.
In assessing the risk, an underwriter generally seeks evidence of a company’s quality assurance programs, including food and site security measures. They will also request documents such as food safety audit reports, recall and business continuity plans and supplier or manufacturer contractual agreements.
“We would then work with the client’s insurance broker to establisha tailored policy that meets the needs of the clients based on the information provided,” says Jae. “An underwriter is charged with finding the very tight balance between client satisfaction, coverage, premium cost and commercially viable terms for all.”
Some product lines are considered high risk. Tony says dairy products often present red flags. “Cheese and dairy products often have a lot of claims and that’s just the nature of the beast,” he says. “You can always argue that there’s never going to be enough premium pool to pay for those claims.”
In some instances, products are simply too difficult to insure for recall. “We get people coming to us [for recall insurance] for building products,” says Tony. “It could be a bolt or a screw that’s used in trucks. The problem in that scenario is how do you recall it? You can only trace it to a certain point.”Tony adds that individual and cites the pigment used to colour red lipsticks, which is often made from crushed cochineal bugs. “If you have that as an ingredient and it was somehow contaminated, how do you recall all of those products?”
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Insurers stress that clients should inform them as soon as possible in the event of a product recall. “The adverse media coverage that may follow even a single product recall incident poses a significant threat to consumer confidence, hard-won retail space, important contracts, market share and brand credibility,” says Jae.
“Zero risk does not exist,” she adds. “Even the best risk management programs may reduce the likelihood of an incident but do not completely eliminate risk. Accidents do happen and when they occur a company has to be able to manage the consequences.”
SHOULD PRODUCT RECALL INSURANCE BE MANDATORY?
Between 2010 and 2013, up to 40,000 homes across Australia were wired with 4,000km of substandard electrical cables sourced from Infinity Cable Company. With insufficient plastic insulation, the cables are expected to become prematurely brittle, leading to fire and electrocution hazards.
In August 2014, the Infinity cables were recalled by 18 electrical retailers and wholesalers due to safety concerns.
Suresh Manickam, CEO of the National Electrical and Communications Association, says he would like to see an industry push for recall insurance to be a mandatory requirement for wholesalers and distributors in order to protect both contractors and consumers.
“It’s pertinent in our industry because faulty products have the propensity to kill,” he says. “While mandatory recall insurance would certainly address the symptoms, we also need to tackle the root of the problem, which is that products are coming into the country that are not up to Australian standards.
”The owner of Infinity Cable Company currently faces a criminal charge and the company is in liquidation. Meanwhile, the recall is estimated to have cost AU$80 million.
In the last decade and a half, there has been a significant increase in the casualisation of workforces. This has resulted in a blurring of the lines between workers who are truly employees and those who are contractors. Often, these arrangements are not properly documented which can make it difficult to determine whether someone is an employee or a contractor.
This has ramifications for commercial organisations of all sizes and especially their liability insurers as it brings into focus the issue of whether an injury giving rise to a claim should be covered under a liability policy or a statutory workers' compensation policy.
This article examines how it is determined whether someone is an employee or a contractor and which claims are likely to be caught under the workers' compensation policy in Queensland.
Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act
The amendments to the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld) ( WCRA ) in 2013 were most notable for the introduction of the 5% degree of permanent impairment ( DPI ) threshold for access to common law damages. Despite that threshold having recently been repealed, some of the 2013 amendments remain in place. This includes the definition of ' worker', which was essentially restricted so as to no longer include contractors, except in limited circumstances.
Determining whether a claimant is a contractor or an employee is usually uncontroversial. If a claimant is an employee, then the statutory workers' compensation policy will most likely respond. If, on the other hand, the claimant is a contractor, then the public liability policy of the hirer will most likely respond.
There are times, however, when it is unclear whether a claimant is an employee or a contractor. There are also times when a claimant is treated as a contractor when, in fact, he or she is an employee, at least from the perspective of the Australian Tax Office ( ATO ). This has obvious implications for policy response.
Definition of ' worker' Pursuant to s 11 of the WCRA:
(1) A worker is a person who-
(a) works under a contract; and
(b) in relation to the work, is an employee for the purpose of assessment for PAYG withholding under the Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Cth), schedule 1, part 2-5.
(2) Also, schedule 2, part 1 sets out who is a worker in particular circumstances.
(3) However, schedule 2, part 2 sets out who is not a worker in particular circumstances.’
Therefore, subject to schedule 2, there are two limbs that must be satisfied in order for a person to be classified as a ‘worker’ for the purposes of the WCRA:
'Works under a contract'
There is no qualification as to the type of contract that must be performed. Having regard to the ordinary principles of contract law, all that is probably required is that the work be performed in exchange for some form of consideration. There is no requirement that the contract be in writing.
The term ' employee' is not defined in the TAA.
The ATO has released a tax ruling 1 to provide guidance as to who is an employee for the purposes of the TAA. The tax ruling essentially provides that the term ' employee' has its ordinary meaning as defined by the common law.
Consistent with the common law, the tax ruling recognises that parties are free to choose the nature of the contract which they make between themselves. However, their own characterisation of that contract will not be conclusive.
As stated in the tax ruling:
'If the underlying reality of the relationship is one of employment the parties cannot alter that fact by merely having the contract state (or have the worker acknowledge) that the worker's status is that of an independent contractor.' 2
Key indicia of whether a person is an employee or an independent contractor include:
This indicator, which has been referred to as the ' classic test' 3 for determining whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor, relates to the degree of control exercised over the worker in respect of the work performed.
If, for example, a worker is told what work to perform, how and where to perform the work, and when to perform the work, then this degree of control is indicative of an employer/employee relationship.
While the degree of control probably remains the most significant criterion for determining the nature of the relationship, other factors still need to be taken into account.
Basis of payment
In simple terms, this relates to whether a worker is paid for the time spent performing the work or paid for the results. If a worker is paid on an hourly basis, then this is indicative of an employer/employee relationship. If, on the other hand, a worker is paid for a particular result (for example, the quantity of fruit picked or trees cut) then this is indicative of a principal/contractor relationship.
There can be instances, however, when a worker is paid for achieving specific results but is still an employee. In Hollis v Vabu 4 the High Court considered that payment to the bicycle couriers per delivery, rather than per time period engaged, was a natural means to remunerate employees whose sole purpose is to perform deliveries. 5 This was in the context of other factors which, as a whole, tended to suggest that the workers were employees.
This relates to whether or not the worker has power or authority to delegate the work and pay someone else to perform the work. If a worker has an unlimited power of delegation, then this is indicative of a principal/contractor relationship. 6 If, on the other hand, the worker is required to perform the work personally, then this may be more consistent with an employer/employee relationship.
This relates to who bears the commercial risk arising out of an injury or defect in carrying out the work. In an employer/employee relationship, the employer bears the risk. If, on the other hand, the relationship is such that the worker bears the risk, then this is indicative of a principal/contractor relationship. A contractor will typically take out their own liability insurance in such circumstances.
Provision of tools and equipment
If a worker provides his or her own tools and equipment, then this can be indicative of a principal/contractor relationship. If the business provides the tools and equipment, or, alternatively, pays the worker to provide his or her own tools and equipment, then this is consistent with an employer/employee relationship.
This, however, is not determinative. For example, in Hollis , the workers, whom the High Court determined were employees, supplied their own bicycles and many of their own accessories.
This highlights the fact that it is the 'totality of the relationship' that must be taken into account when determining whether a worker is an employee or a contractor for the purposes of the TAA.
Dispelling the myths
There are several misconceptions relating to the identification of independent contractors. The first is that, if a worker issues invoices for the work he or she is undertaking, then the worker is a contractor. This is not necessarily correct. As discussed, whether or not the worker is a contractor will depend on the characteristics and key indicia of the arrangement.
Another misconception is that, if a contract of engagement specifies that the worker is a contactor, then that is determinative of the nature of the relationship. Again, while relevant, this is not correct for the reasons mentioned.
Finally, if a worker has an ABN, then he or she must be a contractor. Again, this is not necessarily correct.
Employee/contractor decision tool
The ATO website provides useful guidance for assessing whether a worker is an employee or a contractor. This includes an ' employee/contractor decision tool' 7 which allows the user to enter information into an online questionnaire and, based on the responses, will indicate whether the worker is an employee or contactor. While this is not determinative, it is a useful starting point for assessing the relevant relationship.
To illustrate the point, the following is an example of what can happen.
Joe is engaged by Clean Me Pty Ltd to carry out cleaning work in a commercial building. There is no contract of engagement. Joe considers himself to be an independent contractor and issues tax invoices to Clean Me for the work he performs. Clean Me pays the full invoice amount and does not withhold any tax.
Joe is told by Clean Me that he must clean the building between 5am and 7am, Monday to Friday. He is paid on an hourly basis and is provided with the cleaning equipment by Clean Me. Joe is not authorised to delegate the work to anyone else.
Joe suffers an injury during the course of his work and sues Clean Me.
While Joe, on the face of it, appears to be a contractor, on balance he is likely to be an employee for the purposes of the TAA.
Accordingly, Joe is probably a ' worker' for the purposes of the WCRA and the statutory policy will probably respond to the claim.
While ' employee' exclusions in public liability policies differ from policy to policy, the intention generally is that the exclusion will be engaged in circumstances where the workers' compensation policy responds. On that basis, Clean Me’s public liability policy will probably not respond to the claim and dual insurance will not apply.
The key point to remember here is that a 'c ontractor' is not always a contractor, a ' contractor' can sometimes be an employee.
It is important to not take an arrangement between a claimant worker and his or her ' employer' at face value. It is the characteristics of the relationship, not any labels placed on it, or the way in which the parties treat the relationship, that will determine the nature or the relationship.
The starting point for assessing the relationship will often be the contract of engagement.
A failure to properly assess a work relationship may result in a liability policy responding to a claim when, in fact, it ought not to.
TR 2005/16 –
"Income tax: Pay As You Go - withholding from payments to employees."
2 TR 2005/16, para. 18 – referring to Commissioner of State Taxation v The Roy Morgan Research Centre Pty Ltd  SASC 288; 2004 ATC 4933; (2004) 57 ATR 147.
3 See Hollis v Vabu (2001) 207 CLR 21, Stevens v Brodribb Sawmilling Company Pty Ltd (1986) 63 ALR 513 at 525.
4 (2001) 207 CLR 21.
5 Ibid at 44.
6 Stevens v Brodribb Sawmilling Company Pty Ltd (1986) 63 ALR 513 at 517 and 519.
7 https://www.ato.gov.au/Calculators-and-tools/Host/?anchor=ECDTSGET&anchor=ECDTSGET/questions/ECD... .
A new report from the Financial Rights Legal Centre shows claimants routinely find insurance fraud investigations to be lengthy and intimidating and that their guilt is being prejudged.
The Bushfire Building Council of Australia (BBCA) says it is too soon to tell whether homes constructed to “bushfire-proof” standards were among those destroyed in the Christmas Day blaze along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road.
CSIRO is completing a report on the fire that destroyed 116 homes around Wye River and Separation Creek. It will cover the performance of properties built to standards recommended by the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.
While declining to pre-empt the report’s findings, BBCA CEO Kate Cotter admits building a home to approved codes will not always save it.
“Even the best building code will struggle to make a big enough difference at the local level, [depending on conditions],” Ms Cotter told insuranceNEWS.com.au.
“You’ll never be able to design your way out of [a fire like Wye River blaze], but there’s certainly more we can do to make homes safer.”
The CSIRO report will consider whether homes were lost due to a failure of the building codes or non-compliance.
The BBCA has revealed to insuranceNEWS.com.au it expects to release a national ratings system that assesses fire risk at a township level, to ensure local characteristics are factored into fire mitigation for homes and land use.
“If you don’t address bushfire risk on a township-wide basis, it doesn’t matter how much money you throw at building new fire-proof buildings,” Ms Cotter said.
“We know from experience that local issues are not adequately addressed [in planning for bushfires]. In Wye River, for example, new houses built to the latest standards were next door to old houses.”
Ms Cotter believes the BBCA’s rating system will provide communities and local governments with the information needed to adopt localised bushfire risk management strategies.
“A star rating system for townships will give governments the tools to address risk. It will be up to shire councils to decide whether they want to have a go at enforcing standards based on our assessment of local conditions and particular problems associated with each township.”
To compliment the top 5 most common claims, below are some tips on how your small business clients could minimise these incidents occurring to them.
Preventing the top 5 most common claims
There are several simple steps small businesses can take to prevent the top 5 most common claims from happening to them. Below are some tips on how your clients could minimise some of the most common claims.
1. Theft & Burglary
2. Storm Damage
3. Property Damage (Accidental & Malicious)
4. Machinery & Equipment breakdown
5. Liability (Property Damage)
Insurance do’s and don’ts: Check your policy to see you have the cover you need.
You are overseas on a three-month trip of a lifetime and a freak storm wreaks havoc on your home. You didn’t tell your insurer of your travel plans and now you may not be covered for the damage.
You’ve left your work tablet in the back of a cab and the boss says it’s your responsibility to replace it. Will your insurance pay up?
These are just some of the potential scenarios that could cost you thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars because you didn’t read the fine print on your general insurance policy.
Failing to understand what you are covered for can have catastrophic consequences for your hip pocket, says Abigail Koch, spokeswoman for comparethemarket.com.au.
"Insurance is not cheap so you really do need to know what you are paying for," she says.
Reading your policy Product Disclosure Statement will take hours of your life you’ll never get back, but it could spare you financial disaster.
If you are away for more than 60 days and you have a break-in or fall foul of a natural disaster, you could run into trouble with your insurer, says Koch.
"You could face a hefty 'unoccupancy excess' when you go to make a claim or find you’re no longer covered," she says.
"For long absences you must let your provider know and make special arrangements to maintain your insurance."
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures show 228,900 homes (2.6% of all households) were broken into in 2013/14 with most burglaries happening on a Friday, between 12 and 5pm, according to the NRMA.
GIO spokesman, Stephen Bell, also warns against sharing your holiday plans online as opportunistic thieves often use social media to target victims.
When you are away, you should always recruit a friend or neighbour to keep an eye on your place and collect the mail, cut the lawn and keep up general maintenance so the house doesn’t look unoccupied and to minimise any fire or storm damage risk.
Putting off odd jobs
"In the event of a fire you could have a claim questioned if you have let the maintenance of your home go for a while," says Koch.
Most people know to keep gutters and roofs clear but general upkeep is important.
"Some policies may require you to keep the home/unit and contents well maintained and in good condition. If you don’t meet your responsibilities, they may reduce or refuse to pay your claim or cancel your policy."
Damage from renovation projects can be costly.
Totalling tools of the trade
"If you have a work laptop or phone that you take home, make sure you know what you’re up for if it is stolen or damaged while in your hands," she says.
"You need to check your contents insurance policy and your employment contract whether your employer’s insurance will cover those work items."
Otherwise you could be forking out thousands of your own hard-earned dollars.
If you are renovating then a call to your insurer should be on your checklist.
Some insurance policies specify renovations costing more than $50,000 could affect your legal liability cover — the cover you have in case someone claims compensation against you for injury on your property.
Renovating? Check your liability.
"Claims can run into the hundreds of thousands if someone is injured, or worse, on your property," she says.
"Tell your insurer about a renovation project and increase the value of your home so you are not left in serious debt."
If you decide to splash out on a pool or spa then check your existing policy document. These items may not be included and need separate insurance.
Doing business at home
Most standard homeowner insurance policies do not provide cover for home-based businesses, says Koch.
"Double check if your existing home and contents insurance covers your business activities or employees, suppliers or customers in the event of accident or illness."
Aussies love the outdoors and a boat or caravan on the block is common but be aware of the potential hazards.
'If they’re timber, these items cannot only add to your fire risk but each of them could need separate insurance because they’re often expensive items not covered by a general policy."
Garden furniture, statues and even your gnome collection can be covered for fire damage or theft under most home policies but plants are another matter.
"If your prized Japanese maple or stunning rose garden are pilfered or destroyed by fire they will not be covered by the majority of insurers," says Koch.
"Some premium policies will offer cover but typically only up to a maximum of $2000 — not much when you consider how expensive plants can be."
If you sell products which you store at home, you need to protect your stock or inventory for damage or loss.
"Make sure your insurer can arrange alternative accommodation in the event of fire ... if you’re running a business from home, this could save you money in the long run," she says.
Don’t let the bugs bite
Termites cause around $1.3 billion in repair costs to Aussie homes each year but insurance companies will not cover against pest infestations — handy to know if you just bought your first house.
"Pests cause more damage to homes than natural disaster, theft and burglaries combined and insurance companies do not cover pests," says Koch.
"Prevention treatment is the only way to deal with them."
With the data breach count ticking higher than ever in Australia, it’s clear that cybersecurity is one of the biggest challenges facing businesses today. And with each breach impacting an average of over 20,000 individual records, consumers can no longer turn a blind eye.
Cybercrime does not discriminate. It impacts businesses of all shapes and sizes. But we can identify trends and high-risk sectors that are more likely to attract their attention and efforts.
Here are 4 targets likely to be on the top of hackers’ lists in 2016.
Identity fraud is nothing new, but recent reports suggest that as new technology makes it more difficult to create fake identities, cybercriminals are opting to steal real ones with more tenacity.
The Veda 2015 Cybercrime and Fraud Report found a nearly 60 per cent increase in fraudulent credit applications involving identity takeovers in Australia in the past two years and a 17 per cent increase in the past year. And with each data breach of consumer data, identify theft becomes that much easier.
Your medical records
It may seem unusual for cybercriminals to be interested in what happened during your last doctor’s visit, but healthcare and medical organisations offer a treasure trove of information-rich data. That data, if used in the right way by the wrong people, can be devastating for consumers and businesses. Rumours around the health of the late Steve Jobs caused a sharp fall in Apple stocks and, just recently, it was revealed that Charlie Sheen’s HIV diagnosis was first uncovered in the Sony hack.
But you don’t have to be a celebrity or high-profile target to be a victim of hackers using your highly personal information for their own gain. Just ask any of Ashley Madison’s customers.
Your small business data
Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks. Cyberstorms that many large organisations can weather can easily sink smaller ones. Unfortunately, small businesses looking to optimise their budgets often view robust security solutions as a grudge purchase.
But the most dangerous thing for small business owners to think is: “We’re not big enough for cyber attackers.” Research has found that ransomware attacks are now targeting SMBs due to their more lax security measures and capacity to pay.
Your convenient, cloud-based platforms
Platforms like MyGov offer consumers a convenient way to access government services and information. Using just one login and password, the platform enables you to do everything from filing income taxes or applying for child support to managing your ABN. But this simple, consolidated, solution also creates a honey pot for hackers.
Organisations tasked with safeguarding these types of platforms have to ensure the strictest levels of security, especially in the wake of the recent breach of payroll systems and tax file numbers.
Consumers take a risk every time they trust their personal data to ill-equipped and underprepared businesses, and they’re starting to notice. A recent study found that, when considering new innovations, privacy is now the biggest concern for more than two-thirds of consumers globally.
It’s time for businesses to take action to protect their IP and customer information. Encrypting what you deem most important to your business is a good place to start but even better are solutions that use multilayer encryption with private keys that are owned and managed by the user. It’s all about finding solutions that strike the right balance of security and productivity.
Eric Schwantler is the General Manager of Dekko Secure, which provides complete security and privacy for email, chat and document storage.
The year 2016 marks a forceful departure from past findings, as the risks The Global Risks Report 2016 has highlighted over the past decade are now starting to manifest themselves in new, sometimes unexpected ways with impact to people, institutions and economies.
Now in its 11th edition, The Global Risks Report 2016 draws attention to ways that global risks could evolve and interact in the next decade. The year 2016 marks a forceful departure from past findings, as the risks about which the Report has been warning over the past decade are starting to manifest themselves in new, sometimes unexpected ways and harm people, institutions and economies. Warming climate is likely to raise this year’s temperature to 1° Celsius above the pre-industrial era, 60 million people, equivalent to the world’s 24th largest country and largest number in history, are forcibly displaced, and crimes in cyberspace costs the global economy an estimated US$445 billion, higher than many economies’ national incomes. In this context, the Report calls for action to build resilience – the “resilience imperative” – and identifies practical examples of how it could be done.
It's widely regarded as crucial to the survival of almost any business that suffers a substantial loss but up two-thirds of businesses could be operating without business interruption insurance .
In order to help broker clients appreciate how business interruption cover works and its importance, NIBATV has prepared a short animated video covering the basics.