INBOX : The deep end

There’s worrying lack of urgency in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake that means bureaucracy is slowing down the city’s commercial recovery, warns Chartis Insurance’s new CEO Cris Knell.
Knell says he believes it’s real concern that urgency levels have dropped so far, so quickly.
“The urgency level is declining, yet we are only 20 percent through the recovery process. lot of people have been suffering business interruption and cash flow is paramount. There’s still lot of work to do.”
He says with upwards of 64,000 claims to process, his concern is that traditional approaches are too slow.
His preference is to settle claims quickly and get businesses working again. If losses turn out to be more extensive than first thought, they can be reimbursed later.
It’s been heck of start to new job for Knell, who is fresh from senior manager roles in Europe and Asia, for American International Underwriters and the newly rebranded AIG.
“It’s been interesting…” he laughs. “I guess in any new job you have to face challenges, but I have to say I wasn’t expecting an earthquake!”
Knell says because his company mainly deals with the commercial market and lot of SMEs, with about 800 clients in the city, his team’s first priority was to get his customers’ businesses operational.
“Our mantra was to get assistance on the ground as soon as possible. We were lucky that we were able to reach out to other regions who had had similar disasters: the fires in Australia, the tsunami in Singapore. response team was set up by 3pm the day of the quake.”
Out of the experience, he’s learned that communications are key: “We wanted people to hear from their insurers.” And so was getting help arranged: “We had to make sure we had our resources lined up. People were clamouring for limited number of resources.”
Knell says his next job is strategy for the coming year, both in the commercial and consumer markets where products include accident, health and travel insurance, and extended warranties.
“‘It’s about making sure all our guys work closely with our customers and that they support good client service.”

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