Insurance Business New Zealand interview with Myles Noble, Head of Claims & Earthquake Response.
Myles Noble’s career trajectory is impressive.
He has climbed through the ranks from his first job at State Insurance as a new graduate with a penchant for ska punk, working the ‘rough streets of Onehunga’ to regional claims manager in Wellington.
From there, after being made redundant when State merged with NZI, he went to Crombie Lockwood where he is now head of claims and earthquake response.
Not only that, he is also a senior associate at the Australia and New Zealand Insitute of Insurance and Finance’s (ANZIIF) and vice chairman of the New Zealand member advisory board. Plus he has been involved with the committee of the New Zealand Insurance Law Association for nine years, the helping to organise four of their annual conferences.
Among the awards to his name are the Insurance Brokers Association of New Zealand (IBANZ) Young Broker of the Year (2005) and in 2011 he was awarded the IBANZ Claims Professional of the Year award.
While Noble is certainly proud of his achievements, he is also humble and generous enough to share the accolades with the team behind him.
“They’re (the awards) always representative of the team you’ve got behind you,” he says modestly. Although clearly he is a leader who inspires great loyalty, as he admits: “I have really great staff working with me, who have worked with me for 10 years or more. Quite a few came with me when I got made redundant at State.
“Even as my role has developed and become more senior I still very much encourage my staff and brokers to involve me whenever they want to, I genuinely enjoy the hands on aspect of my job.”
With the fourth anniversary of the first Canterbury earthquake marked this week, Greytown-based Noble says he has spent a good chunk of the last four years of his life being hands-on down in Christchurch, initially two days a week for the first year or two and now down to a couple of times a month.
He says: “I am very, very proud of the way our company as a whole has responded to the Canterbury earthquakes. It really has been a massive team effort. We came up with some quite unique solutions for our clients both on the commercial and the domestic side, and equally as we settled earthquake claims we came up with unique solutions for our clients to be able to reinvest in the Canterbury rebuild.”
Some of those solutions include securing contract works with insurance when it was not readily available on the market, and on the domestic side setting up a dedicated project manager utilising two seismic drills dedicated to Crombie Lockwood clients.
“We were fortunate to have a great underwriting partner in NZI who embraced our suggested solutions and ran with it,” he says, adding: “I try not to stand on the soapbox and say how good we are but I genuinely believe that our clients are better off with the solutions we presented.”
These innovations mean that on the commercial side Crombie Lockwood is 96% complete.
“On the domestic side while the percentage is a lot lower, most of the clients we can help, ie those that don’t have land issues and those that are committed to their own repairs or rebuild, we are close to having a solution for them.”
This is where the regret comes in though, he says, referring to the fact that four years later people are still living a nightmare in Christchurch.
“My big regret is that the fantastic way the industry as a whole has responded to the commercial claims will forever be overshadowed by the less impressive performance over domestic claims.
“I genuinely think that had EQC allowed private insurers to manage these then Canterbury domestic claimants would be in a better position now.
“But we’re never going to stand up and say what a great job because it’s still going. It’s embarrassing.”
An update on the Christchurch rebuild by Peter Townsend, of the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce, promises to be one of the highlights of this year’s sellout NZILA conference, being held in Wellington next week, says Noble.
The Hon Justice Miller will also be reflecting on the cases arising out of the Christchurch earthquakes along with other speakers of note including Stephen Kay from Cunningham Lindsey on product recall, Professor Robert Merkin presenting on UK law reforms and guest speaker and Contiki founder John Anderson, who will be sharing his insights.
Noble says he enjoys his work with these professional associations as it’s a fantastic forum to provide high end technical training to experienced claims staff.
And while he has now clocked up 12 years with one of the nation’s biggest broking firms, Noble says he has no plans to leave, despite the high turnover often seen in the industry and is encouraged by their recent acquisition by fellow broking firm Arthur J Gallagher.
“I truly believe that I work for a great company with great leadership, who believe and have invested in our claims service being a point of difference,” he says.
“A lot of managers talk about empowerment but Steve (Lockwood) and Carl (O’Shea) live by it, allowing myself and others on our leadership team to take responsibility and accountability for their divisions without interference.”
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