C&L, Cranes & Lifting, Features

Insuring mobile plant in the Shaky Isles

Matt Ziegler, UANZ Head of New Zealand and Pacific, explains how the economy is impacting the insurance sector for cranes and other types of mobile plant.

“Over the 10 years we have been operating in New Zealand we have grown with the industry to become one of the largest mobile plant insurers in the country. We are backed by QBE which has an A-Plus credit rating, so we are very strong in that sense. The crane industry has been a cornerstone for the success of our New Zealand business UANZ and together we will continue to support the crane industry into the future in every way we can,” said Matt.

UANZ works with a national network of insurance brokers, says Matt.

“We work with brokers on a national basis. We’re a specialist insurer in mobile plant equipment and part of our value proposition is to provide help, advice and give guidance on accounts with cranes, earthmoving equipment and all those types of heavy plant and equipment.

“Another major part of our value proposition is our claims handling. Because we specialise in this area, we have vast experience managing claims for mobile plant and we work with assessors and reviewers that have in-depth knowledge of this sector.

“Insurance brokers tend to be ‘Jacks of all Trades’ and there are only a few brokers that specialise in heavy plant and mobile equipment. We have good relationships with the larger brokers that have a construction department, and they call on us for advice on matters knowing this is all we see all day every day,” said Matt.

UANZ has plenty of experience in insurance, with Matt clocking up 37 years this year and the underwriting team providing 60 years of combined experience.

“Our claims department is headed up by Dana Van Tiel. She’s been handling heavy plant equipment claims for 15 years here and in Australia. Dana came on board not long after we first started the company in NZ, so she’s highly experienced in mobile plant equipment claims,” he said.

Matt raises some interesting points regarding the insurance of tower cranes in the earthquake prone Shaky Isles.

“I’m not an expert in tower cranes and I’m certainly not a technical engineer, but it’s my understanding that the tower crane bases are engineered to the New Zealand earthquake code/standard. We have tower cranes in Wellington and Christchurch and there have been shakes but we’ve had no issues with that. In fact, we don’t charge extra levies for earthquakes. We are in the Shaky Isles and there’s always that possibility and that risk. And if you get a big one, no amount of engineering is going to stop a tower crane being damaged or God forbid falling over. It’s worth noting that the earthquake standards are designed to protect people not property,” he said.

Matt explains how important it is for customers to work closely with their brokers to ensure their policies are not under insuring or over insuring their plant and equipment.

“Under insuring is not a major issue today, although it has been in the past. Nowadays, we have affordability with the equipment and the perception that if you underinsure something you’ll pay less in premiums doesn’t apply so much.

“Why insure for half the cost if something goes wrong with the plant, you are then left facing losses anyway. In my opinion, it you’re going to insure, it makes no sense to underinsure unless you’re prepared to wear that loss. I think you are better off insuring fully, taking a higher excess and be prepared to have some skin in the game and receive a premium discount that way, rather than under insuring. There are a lot of ways to skin a cat,” said Matt.

He goes on to discuss how UANZ manages an incident and how responsive his team is to assess the damage and have the crane repaired.

“We recently had an unfortunate incident with a machine on its side.  As soon as we found out, our assessor contacted the insured to discuss next steps and triage the incident. We use various assessors but there a couple that we value the most and prefer to use. They actually had our client’s number and got onto them straight away. Fortunately crane hire businesses are pretty good at salvaging because they have most of the heavy equipment needed in their fleet. We provide our brokers and our larger clients our assessor’s details, and they are available 24/7, should there be an incident,” he said.

“Time is money in the crane industry. It’s high value, heavily financed equipment and it needs to be back working. We are very much reliant on the repair networks and overseas parts coming in which puts us at the mercy of supply chains, but we do everything we can to turn our claims around as quickly as possible. We do have the capacity to help out in those in-between times with some of the features of our policy including financial protection. But at the end of the day, you want to get the machine either replaced or repaired and carry on with your contract and continue doing what you do,” he said.

UANZ has a network of preferred repairers, says Matt.

“We do have a network of specialised repairers, but a lot of this work tends to be under warranty, so we also rely on the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). There are some very good repairers in New Zealand, and we’d love to use them but sometimes it’s not possible.

“Each type of plant goes to a different type of repairer because they specialise in specific fields. Our assessors have access to this network, and our clients know these networks as well. A forestry product, for example, will go to a specialist repairer who knows the machine and they can repair it safely and within warranty specifications. You have strict health and safety issues with repairs, and they need to be certified by independent engineers to ensure they are fit for purpose.

“Our aim is to get this equipment, back out and working for the customer as quickly as possible, so they have their asset back doing what it’s supposed to do, earning money,” said Matt.

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