Mike Phipps is a Claims Technician at State Insurance and part of the team at IAG working on claims for residential repairs and rebuilds in Canterbury. IAG’s aim is to complete all such claims by the end of 2015. In the 16 September 2013 edition of South Island’s largest daily newspaper, The Press, Mike shared his experience of what he believes can help progress a rebuild and get people moving in, and on, faster following events such as the 2010/11 Canterbury quakes.
What’s your role in IAG’s recovery programme?
I’m involved in case managing mostly domestic earthquake claims, ranging from relatively simple rebuilds on the flat areas of Christchurch and its surroundings to complex hill repairs and rebuilds. I also provide support and training to staff.
What might you help people with on a typical day?
There’s no such thing as a typical day. Each claim is unique and they’re all at different stages. A lot of my day is spent addressing specific questions that arise to ensure that things can keep moving forwards smoothly.
What’s one thing you encourage?
A key thing for me is good communication. I encourage all my clients to contact me if they have any questions at any stage, as the last thing I want is for someone to be worrying about something that I may be able to answer.
Any tips on how people can help to keep things moving?
I believe the biggest thing is to be able to dedicate appropriate time to the planning process once your claim progresses to this stage. That is not always easy, but if you’re ready to work with the builder, loss adjuster and project manager and make decisions early, your reinstatement time can be really kept to a minimum.
What about temporary accommodation?
It’s important to know what you’re covered for because if the reinstatement takes longer than initially predicted there’s the risk of exhausting the cover. If this does occur you may be able to access funding through CETAS (Canterbury Earthquake Temporary Accommodation Service) but with rising rent costs, planning ahead and considering other options, like staying with family, can help.
What’s the most memorable repair/rebuild you’ve worked on?
They’re all memorable but one that particularly comes to mind was for an elderly couple whose Bexley home was badly damaged first in the September quake and then again in February, when they were forced out. During the rebuild process they faced many challenges including health problems, accommodation issues and finding an affordable section, but in the end we were able to help them through a house and land package, with the builder initially paying for the section.
Where are they up to now?
Thankfully they are now enjoying their new home. Although the process was challenging, we all stuck together and they were delighted to move in late last year.
How do you feel IAG’s progress is tracking?
Overall I think that it’s tracking very well. While we can’t begin everyone’s repairs and rebuilds at the same time I have been involved in a lot of claims and over half of the files I have managed are now settled. We’ve set ourselves a goal to have our repairs and rebuilds completed by the end of 2015, which I believe we can meet.
What’s the most rewarding part of your role?
The most rewarding part of my role is seeing people move into their new homes and knowing that they can now put the earthquakes behind them and concentrate on the future.
Mike Phipps has worked at State Insurance for more than 25 years. During that time, he built up substantial experience in claims before becoming a Technician in October 2001. Mike has been heavily involved in earthquake claims since September 2010.