Case Studies, Features, Queensland

You Hire flooding with praise for UAA

You Hire is a Brisbane-based specialist hirer of heavy lift materials handling equipment. Based in Rocklea, the business was unfortunately inundated during the recent floods and a number of the fleet of heavy lift forklifts, including large trye handlers and container handling forklifts, were severely damaged. UAA was on hand to help.

Matt ‘Yappie’ Yapp, director and owner of You Hire, explained to Cranes and Lifting magazine how Underwriting Agencies of Australia (UAA) responded to flooding events and why he has been insured with UAA for many years.

“We were in cranes and haulage for over 20 years, and we were employing over 100 people in the business, but we were getting tired of the issues that went with managing a big business. The unions were making it hard, so we decided to get out of cranes and haulage and focus on the rental side of the business, which includes our heavy lift forklifts,” said Yappie.

You Hire specialises in the hire of large tyre handling attachments used for changing tyres in the mining sector, container handling forklifts, reach stackers and forklifts from 16t capacity upwards. You Hire services the mining, rail, and shipping industries, and anyone who requires heavy capacity forklifts.

“We have always been insured by UAA, both when we had the crane and transport business and now with the forklift hire business. We have always had a good claims history with minimal claims. We have always found UAA to be a great company to be insured with,” said Yappie. 

“We used to conduct all the major recoveries for UAA. These were the results of mishaps from other businesses. UAA would send me numbers of these jobs simply because we got stuck in and made the jobs happen.” 

Unfortunately, You Hire has been inundated with flooding on a number of occasions, and Yappie discussed how responsive UAA have been during these crises.

UAA’s Simone Searle, technical claims consultant, and Michelle Morrisey national claims manager.

“We had some notice that conditions were not going to be good, and we were lucky enough to get 95 per cent of our fleet out. The problem we have with this facility is that the street floods first, making it impossible to move the equipment. 


“We had a lot of gear damaged in that flood, including flys and hook blocks which were left behind, and a lot of work was required to rehabilitate the equipment. 

“After the 2011 flood, George Grasso, UAA’s chief claims and services officer, and assessors came straight up from Newcastle to help. UAA were here to help us make the right decisions and get the equipment back to work as soon as possible. Together we mitigated a lot of loss with that flood.

“UAA has always provided a very professional service and I’ve found them to be fair, just, and good people. They understand our business, which makes so much difference when there is a disaster like these floods,” said Yappie.

There was another flood in 2013 and Yappie and his team had to think quickly.

“The street started flooding again and it looked like the yard was going under, we had to do whatever we could to get the gear out. Our neighbour is a business called Cascade Forklift Attachments and we are a big customer of their tyre handlers. We asked if we could exit our gear through their premises and they said ‘come on through’. 

“We had to take some panels off one of their large sheds and drive the machines through and to safe ground. We also helped them get some of their gear to safe ground and together we did everything we could to mitigate loss,” he said.

With the recent flood it was apparent to Yappie that none of the authorities including the state government and local councils were prepared for the magnitude of the flooding.

With the roads flooded, it was impossible to get everything out of the facility in time.

“There were no warnings from the authorities and there were certainly no notifications,” said Yappie. 

“To date we have written off five or six machines. As usual, UAA have been super responsive and cooperative and they quickly accepted these write-offs. Obviously, we have been working hard to get the other machines operational. We’ve been buying a mix of second-hand and new parts in an attempt to keep the costs down. 

“We bought an old wreck recently. Hyster wanted $50K for a new cab with the electrics that go with it. The wreck cost $8K and it features a cab which is only 12-months-old, which UAA were really happy about.

“In these types of circumstances where we are trying to get everything back up and running, I will speak to George and let him know what we are proposing. He was obviously delighted with this outcome and pleased to learn we were in the process chasing another wreck and plan to harvest the components from this as well. 

“Looking for solutions in this way, we can save a lot of money and we can also access the parts quickly because, with the way supply chains are the moment, parts availability is an major issue,” said Yappie.

Simone Searle is a technical claims consultant at UAA and is handling the You Hire claim. Searle explained how UAA approaches these situations.

“When these types of natural disasters occur, we alert and mobilise our assessors and get them to site as quickly as possible,” she said. 

“When we are notified that a client has been inundated with flood water, we don’t know what items have been damaged. So, the assessor walks through the site with client, assessing the damage to the various pieces of equipment, determining if they can be repaired or if they are a total loss. 

“In this instance, our assessor is known to Yappie. You Hire has been a long-term client of UAA and they have worked together on previous claims. The assessor specialises in the heavy lift industry and so he has the required knowledge of our client’s business and the equipment he operates.”

Following the site visit, the assessor compiles a report with details of what is a total lost and what is repairable. With the total losses there is some work that goes on in the background says Simone.

“The assessor will send us reports on the values of the machines that are a total loss and, as soon as we receive this information, we start processing the claim and getting the funds out to the client for the losses they have suffered,” said Searle.

Because UAA and You Hire have worked together for so long there are high levels of trust from both parties. Searle explained how this trust can see the equipment recovered and back operating in the fastest possible time frames.

“With You Hire, we understand Yappie is very hands on with his equipment and he has a highly qualified and experienced team that carries out the repairs, servicing, and maintenance of the fleet. With the equipment identified as being in a condition that can be repaired, we are happy for him to start that process. 

“In this instance, it has involved Yappie buying wrecks from which he can harvest various components to get his machines up and running as quickly as possible. Yappie then submits his costs to our assessor, who ticks them off and agrees they are fair and reasonable. These will come through to me and I will authorise the payment of the client’s out-of-pocket expenses,” she said.

This transparent communication between client, assessor and insurer is designed to speed up the claims process and to get the equipment back operating and generating revenue for the client as quickly as possible, she explained.

You Hire’s Rocklea site.


“Having worked with Yappie for such a long period of time, we are more than confident in his abilities to repair his machines. It is a much quicker process than sending the equipment to various repairers, having to wait for the quote for the repairs, signing off on the quote, and then waiting for the repairs to happen. Also, sending the equipment to repairers incurs additional costs as we have to float the equipment to the various repairers. 

“Over the years, our CEO Michael ‘Murf’ Murphy, and chief claims and services officer George Grasso have visited Yappie at this facility on several occasions, so they know what his and his team’s capabilities are,” said Searle.

She went on to explain how the team at UAA approach these catastrophes with empathy.

“When a flood like this happens, we prioritise our clients that have been impacted. We understand how profound the impact of the flood has at a personal level as well as the impact on the business. 

“We also understand the client’s livelihood is at stake and, if they don’t have machines working and generating income, they won’t survive. We are focused on getting funds to the client as quickly as possible so they can get the business up and running again and generating revenue,” she said.

Yappie confirmed if the relationship with your insurance provider is to work for both parties, each has to take responsibility for the other’s wellbeing.

“In my opinion, if you are going to get into bed together, you have to think about both parties, it can’t be about one party. So, post these disasters, we work hard with UAA to mitigate cost, loss, and time,” he said. 

“The relationship with UAA is far more than simply paying premiums and making a claim when there is an incident. To get the full benefit of the relationship you need to be transparent and demonstrate your willingness to work on the best solution for UAA and for us.

“Over the years, UAA has tailored policies to match our requirements. Today, all of our business is dry hire so there are far fewer people in the business, and I guess you could call our machinery relatively low risk. It’s not like a car rental business where every second car gets dinged every second month. Some of our big forklifts go out on hire and we won’t see them back in the yard for seven years.

“Every year, the UAA team put their costs on the table, they explain the terms of engagement, and we have always been satisfied with what they are proposing. We view our relationship with UAA as a partnership and although the shape and focus of our business has changed, the strength of the relationship and UAA’s understanding of our business hasn’t.

“Both my wife, Clare, who works tirelessly behind the scenes, and I believe UAA has the same business values as You Hire and these are based on ‘production not promise’, ” concluded Yappie

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