Sisson Kayaks – proven total loss survivor

On the 19th June 1996 the Sisson Kayaks factory, and everything in it, was totally destroyed by fire.

Lynda and I were in Rotorua with a trailer load of demo kayaks. These kayaks were later used to make our post-fire moulds.

The frost was hard. the pipes were frozen and the staff were working. Our alarm monitoring company in Wellington knew that the smoke detector had activated. Four minutes later the 111 call was lodged.

Up until then insurance was something that we bought – but hardly ever claimed on. We had never met an insurance assessor (AKA Loss Adjuster) until 20th June 1996. Wow – this is different!

Loss Adjusters are trained since birth to always make their adjustments in one direction. In favour only of the insurer.

Even though our insurance had been updated and everything was covered, our payout did not cover the total losses. Fortunately we had made a solid net profit the previous year, and our Loss of Profits policy made the rebuilding of the business worthwhile.

But none of the above happened automatically.

An insurance policy is a contract between the insured and the insurer. Initial meetings with the Loss Adjusters lead to early realisations that they were working only for the insurance company – not us. Things looked bleak.

This is what we did

  1. Retired to our Anakiwa holiday home with all of our relevant insurance policies
  2. Read each policy at least 5 times – every word
  3. Using Post-it notes – littering the document with ‘this is what this means’ notes
  4. re-read each policy 3 more times
  5. Called a new meeting with the Loss Adjuster

What a difference! These people do not read your policy. They operate on certain assumptions – based on industry wording averages. They are surprised to learn that you can constantly make them look like – well – beginners.

Sisson Kayaks was paid every dollar that we were legally entitled to. Beyond that our insurers paid X-Gratia amounts beyond what we were entitled to. These extra payments were possible because in the end our insurers accepted that we were all unified and a part of the same team.

Have you ever heard of an insurance claimant ‘firing’ a Loss Adjuster? I did. The sub-human Auckland based moron that our insurer employed to administer our Loss of Profits payout thought that he would make his bonus easily. Instead he was heading back to Auckland on the next plane. And after that I demanded to only deal face-to-face with the local manager of this company.

Not all Loss Adjusters are bad. One showed human compassion. And 10 months after the fire, when all looked impossible, this man cleared the Nelson City Council paper-work log-jam. Paul Kinghorn made it possible for us to enter and trade from our newly re-built factory.

Christchurch people. Go grab some Post-it notes. Take a break away to somewhere peaceful. Read and re-read your insurance policies. Settle with insurance payments that are fair.

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Contact Grahame

For all enquiries and orders please contact me directly:

Phone: 027 2755 499


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