I sat and watched Tim Grafton on John Campbell Live two nights ago. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. (See http://www.tv3.co.nz/tabid/3692/MCat/2908/Default.aspx#disqus_thread). I was left once again feeling that this man Grafton is either completely naive or the perfect insurance poster boy.
Mr. Grafton comes from a market research company and previously was a political reporter, political adviser and chief adviser to former Prime Minister Shipley – so one cannot but help wondering whether his appointment was not a ‘politically arranged’ one. Do you not find it more than a little interesting that the Insurance Industry has chosen to put in this critical role, someone without an insurance industry background, someone who essentially is unfamiliar with the workings of the industry – someone who is no doubt carefully guided by others within the industry as to what and how to convey the desired messages – a political front man if you will. I don’t envy Mr. Grafton his ‘grubby’ job for one moment. His naivety comes through loud and clear with statements such as “every insurer wants it to be quicker”. There are thousands of people in this city who have been dealing with purposeful delays on the part of insurers – we know what’s going on. Whatever he says, you only need to do the maths to know that the delay is deliberate and extends profits.
It was certainly clear during his recent address during the Seismics in the City Conference on the 21 March 2013, that he had little understanding of the problems facing Cantabrians and the enormity of the issues and numbers of people involved and I noted the other night, that not much has changed. We are not talking about one or two isolated cases, but tens of thousands of people – around two hundred thousand people still experience the daily predicament of unresolved earthquake issues.
During his address in the Seismics in the City conference he went on to say that there was ‘misunderstanding in the community’. I am personally offended by this statement, which attempts to trivialise and deny Cantabrians’ experiences with the insurance industry these past two and a half years. Some of us, after all, have insurance backgrounds ourselves. To dismiss our experiences as ‘misunderstandings’ is both arrogant and uninformed. There is plenty of evidence of ‘venal, money grabbing’ going on in this region – suggesting that it is all a ‘fiction’ is to deny the obvious. It is in the interests of insurers to delay settlement – even with the added building costs etc.
Grafton intimates that 3% interest is the rate they get. Obvious rubbish – you can get 4% even with a simple bank deposit – but you can be sure that they will be getting more than that on ‘our’ invested dollars. Their actual interest on Reinsurance payments of billions (known as the ‘float’) amounts to a very significant sum – far more than the cost of a few repairs here and there and multiple inspections, time wasters etc. Why do you think that they delay the ‘big ticket’ repairs until last of all??
John Campbell suggested last night that the insurance industry was either “Cynical, too slow or incompetent”. Well, I have to tell you – it’s all three!
If it does not benefit any insurer to delay claims because of double digit inflation or having to employ people for longer or because of the ever growing list of unhappy customers (which are the reasons he cited on Campbell’s program) then the only explanation can be pure incompetence on behalf of the industry.
I also listened to Mr. Grafton say that there was a $20,000 provision for accommodation allowance in people’s policies- he said this with some pride. Did he forget that the people had also paid for that?
Listen Mr. Grafton, we’re close to three years on from the event and the $20,000 ran out many months ago for most – people are now eating into their savings and steadily going broke. What have you been doing these last months since your appointment?- clearly not spending enough time in Christchurch talking with the affected population. If you really believe what you say, your talk is the talk of a wide eyed idealistic teenager who has absolutely no idea of the real events taking place here nor of the industry for whom you are now the ‘frontman’. I have to say that it is not an industry that I would be proud to represent.
What was it you said? – “we have stuck with them”. So what else could the insurers have done? Walk away? The truth of the matter is that this is exactly the problem. ‘Sticking with the policyholders’ is exactly what has allowed the industry you represent to delay two and a half years, when insurers could have simply assessed and paid out at an early stage and left the people to pick up their lives, organise their repairs and rebuilds themselves and move on.
As I see it there can be only two explanations why that was not done:
- Did the Government say ‘don’t pay them out – they will simply take the money and leave the City’?
- Or is ‘Sticking with the repair’ not only a good delaying tactic, but also a controlling way of ensuring which other corporates, eg. Fletcher, Arrow, Hawkins etc. get to keep their nose in the trough and certain shareholders do very nicely?
One thing is certain – there is Government complicity either way………… and you are just not helping, Mr Grafton.
Resources: Meme by Bron Williams.