Christchurch Earthquake

It woke us in our caravan at Ohau Lodge. Our only communications were only weak texts. We later went to the top of Ohau Ski field to phone our family. Then Lynda had an accident – and the true extent of the earthquake was beginning to become clear. We headed to Methven. Our kayak factory is unharmed. And the aftershocks are well spaced and soft – when compared to the activity just the other side of the Rakaia River. Lynda’s dislocated shoulder is now healing.

By day two the news media were telling the world that the effected business people of Christchurch will be OK – because they will all be insured. The fire of 1996 taught us a lot about total loss – and I was motivated to do a post on – which is shown below. This speaks for itself – and it was nice to see my thoughts moved on to where they could be useful.

I have also offered to do some free mentoring on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce. Many Christchurch business people have lost their home and business.

by Grahame Sisson | 06 Sep 10, 11:30am

The real extent of the true losses to Christchurch business’s will take months to unfold.

I have a gut feeling of thousands of family business’s shattered. In much the same way that our own family business, Sisson Kayaks, suffered when it was 110% (10% gaps in policies) destroyed by fire in 1996. But this Christchurch event is for each family much much worse. Read on – I have an important point to make.

Sisson Kayak’s  stock and plant policies had not kept up with inflation. Fortunately we still owned a surviving bike factory next door – so we some infrastructure. And we still had a warm home to retreat to. Still – the situation was terribly bleak – and we would never want to re-live it.

But in the midst of our carnage – our Business Interruption Policy kicked in. We had made a handsome profit the previous year. The resultant monthly shower of dollars made re-instatement of the business worth while.

I fear for the small business people of Christchurch. Many will have been in a trading-loss situation awaiting the much promised ‘upturn’. Their Business Interruption Policies may in fact return them zero – reflecting the performance of their most recent reporting period.

This possibility needs to be addressed at a high level within the next few days. Insurance companies and banks need to be collectively dealt with on behalf of Christchurch business – right now. Not in 6 months time. When it will be too late to save these family business’s.

And the city of my childhood needs these family business’s. Without them the city will be nothing.

Grahame Sisson, Sisson Kayaks Ltd, Methven, Canterbury. (zero EQ damage in our kayak factory)

by Wolly | 06 Sep 10, 11:50am

Good point GS…how far back do the insurance calculations for trading loss go?

by John Grant | 06 Sep 10, 11:59am

I agree – this will be a huge issue for the small and larger business community. Many have been trading in a loss or at break even through the financial crisis. It would not be fair to look at only the more recent trading history.

I will speak to a few insurers and see how they plan to deal with this and also talk to Chris Ryan and the Insurance Council.

Something needs to be done or it could kill many small businesses that are crucial to the economy of Canterbury and NZ.

by Grahame Sisson | 06 Sep 10, 12:37pm

The best advise that I can give to the typical ChCh family business is this:-

Pull out your insurance policies

Read them

Read them again – every word.

Read them again – every word – and making numerous notes using Post-It’s – “this is what this fine-print really means”.

Read the whole lot again 6 times.

Make sure that you understand the meaning of every clause – before the meeting with the assessor.

Realise that the happy negotiation must be initiated by your own policy knowledge.

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