The Forgotten Value of Insurance
by Simon Byrne
Insurance is an interesting product. You are buying something that you hope you will never need, and at the purchasing stage, it is impossible to know what may happen in the future so nearly all buyers use price as the only guide when determining value.
There is a forgotten benefit…but one that should not be underestimated.
In my career, I’ve always held insurance and I have made just one claim, and boy I was glad that I was covered because as it turned out, the accident was not my fault but without the help of the insurer, I probably would have been in some real trouble.
It was 1994, I was doing a multi day corporate job for about 1,200 people at one of the large Gold Coast hotels.
Overnight there was a fire backstage in the ballroom. Some of the set, and a lot of our cabling, power distribution and amplifiers were destroyed. There was significant fire and water damage to the hotel’s bespoke carpet and some smoke damage to the ceiling.
Fortunately the fire was put out quickly by a hotel security guard but not before I estimate $250,000 damage done to the hotel ballroom, plus about $60,000 damage done to our hired gear.
At this stage, the cause of the fire was unknown but a cigarette in a bin backstage was the likely cause, and if not that, a fault in the gear that I had hired.
So if the fire was in the bin, blame would be attributed to the hotel, and if it was caused by a fault in our gear, to me!
Now up until then, I had a great working relationship with the hotel, but after the fire they changed. They became adversarial and I realised that they were working up a potentially false case to blame me and my hired equipment for the fire. It felt they were trying to stitch me up!
I was out of my depth and was not sure what to do so I rang AON Insurance Brokers who were my insurance agents and said “I need help”.
AON immediately sent an investigator, obviously to protect their interests, but equally mine. The guy was like a bull terrier, just what I needed.
He ripped into the hotel management and reminded them of how things should work. He documented the scene and made sure the evidence was protected. He threatened the hotel that they were not to do further investigations or interview me without him present. The hotel were now on the back foot and we were in control of the incident.
I felt a huge load off my shoulders knowing that I had a skilled and tenacious investigator on my team, making sure that I would be protected from false accusations. That is something that had never really occurred to me until that day.
A forensic scientist engaged by my insurer later proved that the fire had started from a cigarette in the bin. Who was the only person to smoke in the ballroom that we knew of ? Well that would be the very same hotel security guard that put the fire out…
I believe my insurer sued the hotel to recover their losses in paying out for our damaged gear.
As well as the financial peace of mind, there is the comfort in the knowledge that if I get into trouble again, I can draw on the skills and resources of the insurer to help me get through the drama unscathed. I place a huge value on that…