DLA Phillips Fox partner Crossley Gates
says the greater professionalism in the Lloyd’s of London market is noticeable compared to New Zealand.
Gates was recently in London accompanying the firm’s special counsel Professor Rob Merkin
to deliver a Wordings Masterclass for the Lloyd’s Market Association.
He outlined and updated the audience on the latest decisions that have been made on numerous Christchurch earthquake cases and made his own points on policy wordings.
But he said his lecture was quite different in presentation compared to one on a similar topic he gave recently at the Insurance Council of New Zealand conference, where he called the NZ industry on its ‘sloppy processes’
“I didn’t raise it in London as it’s quite a lot more formal,” he said. “I had to make an enquiry about a dispute arising in New Zealand and I had to check with the London broker and their procedures and it confirmed to me that it was a lot more formal and that particular issue would not have arisen in London.
“There is a raised level of professionalism particularly around claims in the Lloyd’s market which is refreshing.”
He added: “Over there it is more an attitude of ‘Well, we underwrite it so we’ll pay and learn the lesson’ rather than ‘we made a mistake, how can we wriggle out of it?’.”
Gates spoke in November at the ICNZ conference of how ‘sloppy processes’ in the creation of policy wordings and contracts in this country were a weakness that was letting the industry down.
“I was genuinely dismayed at some of the things I saw in terms of just straight sloppiness and totally unnecessary disputes because of sloppy arranging of the cover between the brokers and the underwriters.”
He said he had jumped at the chance to help one New Zealand insurer overhaul the offer and acceptance process which he envisaged would increase the workload at both ends.
“They [the insurer] might get a bit of a push back on brokers from it because there’s an element of laziness at issue. It will create a little bit of extra work at both ends but my point is if you want to call yourself professionals you’ve got to stop this laziness and do it properly and understand this is what you have to do.”
He said the fact it was a major insurer taking these steps was a pretty strong signal to others who would be likely to replicate their actions.
He said his strong words had received a fair bit of feedback, but none of it was negative.
“One broker said that they intended to look at what I had said and I knew that insurer was going down this path anyway. It will be interesting to see what happens.”