This week’s product recalls includes the following:
This week’s product recalls includes the following:
Since the beginning of 2004, Australia has had a complete ban on the importation, manufacture and use of asbestos and products containing asbestos.
As with some of the electrical wiring and insulated foam panels that are being imported from China, it has now been found that building materials, auto parts, crayons and other products imported into Australia from China, contain asbestos.
It is my understanding that under Chinese law, a product that contains less than 5% asbestos can be labelled “Asbestos free” when in fact the product is not. The use of this product can become a real risk to property owners, importers and tradesmen that purchase and install the products etc.
I will confine my comments in this blog to asbestos related products. Since the massive claims that arose out of the use of asbestos, it has become a blanket exclusion across home, business pack, liability and construction risk policies.
More recently, at least one insurer has an automatic decline on any building that contains asbestos. This is as I understand it, is being reviewed to become a referral and will be rated with the additional risk, however at this stage it is an exclusion.
As these products that are being imported are identified, a product recall will be called and if the importer does, as I suspect, immediately seek to go into liquidation, it will be left with the retailer or tradesmen that has sold the product to bear the cost in the first instance. This could have a crippling effect on those businesses.
It is always tempting to go for the cheapest option whether it be building materials, autoparts or general insurance. The reality is, you typically get what you pay for and that modest saving which was made, turns out to have created a massive uninsured exposure which could literally have life changing consequences.
I attach a copy of the Department of Immigration Border Protection notice #2016/13 on the subject of asbestos.
Brokers are urged to discuss this important topic with their Insureds.
Over the weekend I heard of the sad death of Joshua Brown who was in a car operating in autopilot mode. As I understand it, a semi trailer turned across the path of the Tesla Model S car and the on-board anti-collision computer system did not pick up the light coloured truck against a light sky. Whether Mr Brown saw the truck coming we will never know.
United States Transportation Department officials have started an investigation into the cause and many people, including those in the insurance industry and government regulators will be watching for the results with interest.
Ironically, Mr Brown had filmed an incident earlier where the car had prevented a serious accident.
My concern in our Nanny State world is that some interests will attempt to use this tragic event to urge regulators to put up barriers to the development or use of the technology.
Can you image if the governments of the world had stopped or even held back the early development of aircraft technology, how much economic and political benefit would have been lost, not to mention the pleasure of tourism that the ongoing development of flight has created. The early developments in flight, of course allowed the development of space flights with huge scientific and economic benefits. Affordable space tourism is just around the corner.
I have been watching the development of autonomous vehicles with great interest for many years now. I see huge benefits in so many ways. The transport industry is the most dangerous industry to work in. More dangerous than mining and construction put together. To read the latest on this subject visit https://www.finder.com.au/most-dangerous-jobs-australia
There will be lessons learned from this accident and I am certain that the technology will continue to improve and over time the appalling death toll and the number of serious injuries will be reduced by this technology. Hopefully the regulators will appreciate this and not throw the baby out with the bath water.
On reviewing the latest versions of some direct private motor policies the LMI PolicyComparison team brought to my attention that a couple of new exclusions have been introduced.
The previous versions of the wording did not have an exclusion for reckless acts at all, but this has changed. What is most significant is the new version of the policy specifically states that the insurer will not cover driving into water or illegally using a mobile phone. Interestingly the policy in question is marketed to the older generation, who as a generalisation, and at the risk of being called politically incorrect, would be regarded as being less likely to engage in risky behaviour.
Another observation I would make is that I agree that using a mobile phone, particularly texting or doing emails on them while driving, does in my personal experience, increase the risk of an accident. I have written many articles on the subject of driving while texting in particular and even suggested it should be an exclusion. See this article.
Whether using a mobile to speak on while driving is in the category of a drink driver (exclusion) or a speeding driver or someone who runs a red light (insured) I am not sure. Thinking about it, there is a difference. You can accidentally go over the speed limit by just missing a change of speed sign (even when not on your mobile phone) but picking up and using a mobile phone is a deliberate act. The driver is making a conscience decision to increase the risk of an accident, albeit like most they will think that this applies to others using phones but not them!
With the driving into water, this could be a deliberate act or on a dark night it could be a complete accident because you cannot see it in some circumstances. This one is certainly more messy than the first.
At this stage, this endorsement has not found its way into any broker branded wordings but the introduction into this direct offering could be to test the water and it may become common place.
One point to keep in mind with the exclusion, particularly the one regarding using a mobile phone. Not only does this mean you have no coverage for your own car, you have no third party property damage cover for any other car, or property you may hit. Using your mobile phone could be life changing in more ways than one.
Interesting times but the messages here are a common one from me. You /your clients should not purchase insurance on price alone. The coverage, the financial strength rating and the claims rating of the underwriter are to me much more important when you wish to rely on the protection. If you are in doubt, you should seek the advise of a qualified insurance broker.
Equally important, driving while using a mobile phone, particularly texting does expose the driver, passengers and those around you to increased danger. If it is that important to make the call or check your Facebook (or read this post), pull over and do it safely!
Finally, I would like to thank the great team at LMI PolicyComparison.com for bringing these new exclusions to my attention so quickly so that I in turn can advise you.
It was great news when close friends bought an old home literally just around the corner from my wife and I. It is a beautiful old Californian bungalow, which has had an old verandah built in to create a sleep out and a sun room.
As so often happens, the home owners at the time lined the two new rooms with asbestos cement sheeting.
Looking around the garden, some off cuts had been used for garden edging and the like.
If you think that you have found asbestos in your home, the best advise is do not touch it. Asbestos is a risk in the home when it is disturbed in a way that produces dust that contains asbestos fibres. In many cases, the presence of asbestos-containing materials in the home is no cause for alarm if the material has not been damaged.
If the material are not damaged and shows no signs of wear and tear it can often be left in place. For example, internal asbestos cement sheet walls or ceilings that are in good condition and coated with paint do not pose a risk to health, while they are not showing signs of degradation or damage.
However, this type of material can be damaged during a hail or other severe storm. It is also susceptible to cracking and spalling during a fire. If it is damaged as a result of an insured peril, then the cost of removing it safely is typically insured as part of the removal of debris cover.
In this case, my friends want to demolish the old verandah and add a modern extension. Similarly they want to clean up the yard.
Before starting this type of work, it is important that this material is first identified before any renovations commence and that it is safely removed and disposed of responsibly and legally.
As I understand it, in most states and territories, householders may legally remove asbestos from their property, however, as asbestos poses a health risk during removal, packaging, transport and disposal; it is important that it is handled safely during these operations.
If you are considering doing this work yourself, I would refer you to the OHS Reps web-site for further information regarding the safe handling and removal of asbestos in a domestic situation, although, for the sake of the health of your family and yourself, it may be more prudent to get in the experts. A case of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, but in the case of asbestos, it is should read: “ton of cure”.
If you are thinking about working with or removing a material that contains asbestos, please consider the following:
I strongly recommend that loosely-bound asbestos only be removed by a licensed professional, as health risks associated with handling this type of material are far greater than for firmly-bound asbestos.
With the vast majority of insurance policies in the market, liability for injury caused by asbestos is specifically excluded.
 I am not for one second suggesting you set fire to a building to have an insurer remove the asbestos. It is illegal and the fire is potentially more dangerous than the asbestos.
After handling claims for just on forty-three years, I know there are always lessons to be learned or basic risk management measures that need to be revisited after every matter, just in case “it” happens. There will no doubt be a number of lessons learned (or should that be “earned”?) that will come out of the tragic disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370.
One of the first follows the news that one company in the technology sector, Freescale Semiconductor, is reported to have lost twenty of their senior staff in this event. No matter how large the organisation is, to lose that much talent at the one time is surely going to have a negative effect and the company itself is reportedly saying as much.
In our own company, we have a limit of four staff per flight and, being a family company, we are anxious not to have all the family on the one flight, or bus for that matter at the one time. We do this not so much for the family’s sake for, if we were all to perish then our worries are over. We do it as we owe it to our staff and customers to have someone who can immediately step in and make decisions to ensure the company remains focused and viable.
Most Corporate Travel policies, but not all, have a warranty, condition or the like that limits the number of staff on the one flight. Often this is five people. This not only protects the company from a catastrophic loss of staff in the one event, it goes some way to ensure the maximum death benefit payable under the policy is a reasonable amount per person.
The purpose of this posting is to recommend that you review or create your own risk management strategy for travel and to look at the coverage and limitations of your Corporate Travel Insurance policy. If you do not have the cover, please speak with your insurance broker. The cover is surprisingly affordable and with coverage for hire car deductibles included, the investment is often more than paid for by the savings in buy down excess fees on hire car charges. It certainly is for LMI. For those that have access to LMI PolicyComparison, a reminder that the site includes comparisons on Corporate and Business Travel policies for the following insurers.
With multiple airline carriers to most parts of the world, it is only in the rarest of circumstances, that the “no more than four person per flight” rule is an inconvenience.
While I appreciate that air travel remains an extremely safe method of travel, “it” can happen at any time and as I explain in my lectures on risk management, there are many ways to treat risk, risk should never be ignored. I certainly wished I had a $1 for every time a claimant has said to me: “I never thought ‘it’ would happen to me!” In fact I heard it so often I used the line as the title of my thesis into business survival following a major insured loss.
While we wait to see what other lessons learned come out of this, my heart naturally goes out to all those that lost loved ones and are going through so much stress wondering just what happened.
This week’s event involved a major fire at King’s Cross Tube Station. The fire broke out at about 7:30pm on 18th November 1987. Sadly the fire killed 31 people with a further 100 + or – injured.
The cause of the fire was said to be a carelessly discarded lit match or cigarette which was caught up in the escalator. This old escalator had timber slats on the floor of each moving tread.
This escalator serviced the Piccadilly Line and approximately 15 minutes after being reported, as the first members of the London Fire Brigade were investigating, the fire flashed over, filling the underground ticket office with heat and smoke. Part of the reason for the flash over was that a train came into the station and the sudden rush of air fanned the flames.
Rushing down the escalator at the time were firemen including the most senior attending officer. This resulted in a period of chaos and one of the outcomes was the senior officer is not permitted to put him or herself in danger and must control the fighting of the fire from a safe place.
This important lesson took a long time coming as over 100 years ago, on 22nd June 1861, the London Metropolitan Fire Brigade’s first chief, James Braidwood, was killed when a wall collapsed during a fire in Tooley Street at Cotton’s Wharf (near where London Dungeon’s currently is). He was supervising the fighting of the fire and saw that a wall was in danger of falling. He went himself to warn his men and was killed when the wall collapsed. It took two days for his body to be recovered. The two men he went to save were ironically unhurt. The loss of the most senior fire officer in the London Fire Brigade caused disruption to the brigade for some time and certainly effected the result at that particular fire as it did in the King’s Cross fire.
Staying with the King’s Cross fire, the London Underground were also strongly criticised for their attitude toward fires. Complacent because there had never been a fatal fire on the Underground, staff had been given little or no training to deal with fires or evacuation. As so often happens, the publication of the findings of the enquiry led to resignations of senior management in London Underground and to the introduction of new fire safety regulations.
While events like the King’s Cross fire are tragic positive things do come from them. It is frustrating that it takes such an event to highlight problems that are obvious risks.
It is part of the risk management process which in turn forms the first part of Business Continuity Management to identify and eliminate, reduce or otherwise manage the hazards of an organisation.