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“Catastrophes are good for business. They bring in a lot of work, but in some ways they are a distraction, because you have to focus every- one on them. ”

David Waller

Hurricane 23

Catastrophes get me going

Helen Groom talks to former Axis chairman David Waller

David Waller enthuses about the hurricanes that brought devastation.

The former Axis chairman says: “As a loss adjuster, something like this really gets the adrenaline going.”

“Catastrophes are good for business. They bring in a lot of work, but in some ways they are a distraction, because you have to focus everyone on them. Carefully laid plans for the year tend to go astray.”

He notes that in the days before Hurricane Ivan hit, those working in Jamaica were expecting an island-wide hit.

Devastation was expected to be similar to that caused by Hurricane Gilbert in 1988.

Quick judgment

In preparation, Axis set up four offices across the Island. The main base at Kingston, with offices in Mandeville, Montego Bay and Negril – one of the main resorts on the north west coast of Jamaica.

A quick judgment had to be made on the number of people needed to cope with the aftermath of the hurricane. But the situation was made difficult by the fact that this was a multi-island hit, says Waller.

In the end, Ivan grazed the coast of Jamaica, causing less damage than had been feared. The storm hit on a weekend, and the first adjusters were on site on Monday.

Different approach

“We had to assess the claims which needed the most urgent attention. That’s not neces- sarily the biggest claims. It’s just that some people can’t cope and you need to be there to give them help,” says Waller.

Each claim necessitates a different approach. Smaller claims are handled by a single adjuster, and for the larger resorts or hotel chains, a team of adjusters works with a risk manager.

“It’s the luck of the draw whether your property gets damaged or not,” he adds. A relaxed attitude to winds of more than 140 mph battering your house.

But Waller has lived through four hurri- canes, so is in a position to know better than most.

www.insurancetimes.co.uk | 7 April 2005 | Insurancetimes

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