Strata managers – critical when you make an insurance claim

The strata manager is often the first point of call when a claim occurs in a strata property. They play a critical role in helping owners during the process.

Strata managers, like much of the insurance industry, are now facing increased scrutiny so it’s imperative they demonstrate how vital they are and communicate it to owners. The focus has been intensified after the release of industry expert John Trowbridge’s independent consultation paper* reviewing current strata insurance practices including intermediary remuneration.

There is no doubt strata managers are there to help owners with their claims when they face what is often a stressful and traumatic time.

More recently strata managers have been working very hard helping owners who have faced devastating natural disasters. In less than 3 months from the South-East Queensland/Northern NSW flooding CHU received almost 3,000 claims which would mean industry-wide, strata managers have lodged around 5,000-6,000 claims from the event. This is in addition to the 40,000 to 60,000 claims they would typically lodge on behalf of owners corporations+ around Australia annually.

Based on the Deakin Report written by Dr. Nicole Johnston, here’s just some of the things strata managers undertake when a claim occurs:

     Lodge claims – common property, private lot property, routine, non-routine, and complex / major claims. This can be a simple claim like the replacement of broken glass to an emergency such as a large fire at the property resulting in evacuation of the building.

     Engage in ongoing insurance claim management. This is currently more difficult than usual due to the labor force, supply chain and Covid 19 issues.

     Undertake general activities involved with minimisation of loss. Often these events can occur in the middle of the night and have a big impact on the overall cost of a claim.

     Liaise with loss adjustors*.

     Forward contractor quotations to insurers or insurance brokers directly.

     Receive and process the insurer’s acceptance or declinature of the insurance claim.

* “As a Loss Adjuster, one of the most valuable elements in a complex claim to achieving a good claim outcome is the Strata Managers relationship with, and their knowledge of the Owners and their building. A proactive Strata Manager working with the insurer often saves thousands in claim costs and months to the resolution date”

Chris Frazer, General Manager, CHU Assess

The strata managers value is more than that though. Time and time again strata managers helping owners in the first hours after a claim occurs has seen significant positive effects on the outcome of the damage and the work required to reinstate properties.

Strata managers are a vital link in the all-important claims communication chain, especially in major loss scenarios, where work affects common property, or where work affects multiple units.

Since the beginning of the pandemic the claims process has been protracted due to lockdowns, isolation requirements, supply issues and labor shortages. This has meant there has been more correspondence on even routine claims than would normally be expected. Strata managers have helped owners through these frustrating delays.

The claims decision can be an especially delicate communication process. Whilst the strata manager is in many cases “a messenger”, the decision is often more complicated than acceptance or denial. Offers of cash settlement, contributions or repair options must be presented by the managers to the owners corporation for a timely decision.

But despite their work with claims and helping owners with their regular insurance needs, some managers seem to be reluctant in promoting the good work they do. They need to give themselves a pat on the back and gain some positive PR.

Here’s some tips to demonstrate the value strata managers add to the insurance supply chain:

·      Be actively engaged with committees in relation to claims

·      Don’t underestimate the value of a kind word ina hard time.

·      Exhibit a cultural practice of ‘this is what we are here for’.

·      Understand the time and the costs to your business to manage claims.

·      Be proud and encourage pride in your organisation’s role in rebuilding after a loss.

·      Have a script or story about the claims you and your team have been involved in.

The bottom line is strata insurance claims don’t happen without strata managers. It’s time for managers to better value their own contributions to the insurance process, so that they can help their customers understand and value their role. * consultation-paper-2.pdf + Owners corporation, body corporate, strata company

Important note: CHU Underwriting Agencies Pty Ltd (ABN 18 001 580 070, AFS Licence No: 243261) acts under a binding authority as agent of the insurer QBE Insurance (Australia) Limited (ABN 78 003 191 035, AFS Licence No: 239545). Terms, conditions, limits and exclusions apply to the products referred to above. Any advice in this article is general advice only and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before making a decision to acquire any product(s) or to continue to hold any product we recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances and read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (‘PDS’), Financial Services Guide (‘FSG’), and the Target Market Determination (‘TMD’) which can be viewed on the CHU website or obtained by contacting CHU directly.

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