December 2017


Family heads to fun in the sun

By Kate Tilley, Editor, Resolve

Surf, swimming, prawns and plenty of family time were on the agenda for NZILA vice-president Myles Noble, who was about to head to Mooloolaba on Queensland's Sunshine Coast for his annual two-week holiday when he spoke to Resolve.

But, for a man whose job as Head of Insurer Relationships and Broker Claims at Crombie Lockwood also spans the brokerage's internal complaints committee, alternative revenue, and professional indemnity claims, he knew it was highly likely he'd still be at the forefront during the break, particularly if any natural catastrophes occurred.

"You're always on call," he said.

Myles has been with Crombie Lockwood since 2002 and was previously Head of Claims and EQ Response.

Today he leads a team of more than 70 claims professionals, handling major losses across the country and providing technical claims advice internally and externally.

His insurance pathway began when he joined State Insurance's graduate program on the advice of a careers officer.

He spent nine years in various roles and locations, including Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington, until the IAG merger, when claims were centralised to Christchurch and his position made redundant.

He then joined Crombie Lockwood and has just celebrated 15 years with the brokerage. While that's a major milestone, Crombie Lockwood, now part of Arthur J Gallagher, is renowned for the longevity of its employees.

"Our head of sales has been here 25 years and celebrated this the same week I had completed 15 years, so he said I still had to buy the beers that afternoon," Myles told Resolve.

Myles appreciates his multi-faceted role that is client, underwriter and broker facing.

His claim team is still working through a small number of residual Canterbury quake claims but Myles is proud the firm has already settled 6,500 claims for $NZ2 billion. Those that remain are the most contentious and some are being litigated.

The 4 September 2010 M7.1 Canterbury earthquake that struck NZ's South Island was followed by damaging aftershocks, the strongest of which was the M6.3 Christchurch earthquake on 22 February 2011. It was more destructive and 185 people died.

Myles said a memorandum of understanding, struck between the Insurance Council of NZ and the Earthquake Commission (EQC) after the 14 November 2016 Kaikoura quake was "a game changer".

"It won't remove every contentious claim, but it has reduced admin for everyone and really got things sped up," he said.

He ponders how much faster claims management may have moved had the same arrangement been in place after the Canterbury quakes. EQC had fewer than 22 staff before September 2010 and more than 1,100 after 22 February 2011. It was in "an unenviable position", he said.

Myles says he can't spend too much time worrying about suggestions another "big one" will erode NZ's ability to buy reinsurance in global markets. "I firmly hope there won't be another big one, but you need to deal with fact not speculation," he told Resolve.

The four Wellington NZILA conferences for which Myles has either been organising committee head or part of the organising committee have made him immensely proud. The 2017 event had "fantastic" academic and social programs and greater diversity among attendees with more loss adjusters and underwriters and more women in the audience. In future, he aims to boost broker numbers, too.

NZILA annual conferences are the nation's biggest insurance events and, as a non-profit body, NZILA aims to make them affordable and "good value for money".

The association's strong industry reputation means sponsors approach NZILA to be involved in its activities.

Myles says NZILA pitches its events "at the right level" providing quality speakers, including academics and overseas experts, which is why events are frequently sell outs.

In 2005, Myles was named IBANZ young broker of the year and, in 2011, IBANZ claims professional of the year.

He won a Wesfarmers Insurance (Crombie Lockwood's then owner) leadership award in 2012 and his team was a finalist in the Wesfarmers innovation of the year award in 2014 for its earthquake recovery program. (However, the change of ownership to AJG on 1 July 2014 made the team ineligible to win.)

Myles travels frequently for work, but one of his greatest pleasures is getting home to his children – an 11-year-old daughter and nine-year-old twins, a son and a daughter.

The kids are into sport – like their dad – enjoying hanging out in skate parks, riding scooters, and learning to play football and cricket.

Myles played rugby until his early 30s and still plays with a soccer team in the family's hometown of Wairarapa, an hour's drive north of Wellington. It's an ideal base from which to manage Crombie Lockwood claims departments in Palmerston North and Wellington.

And here's something even his NZ colleagues may not know about Myles – he used to manage a ska band, The Offbeats, that performed hundreds of shows around NZ, toured Australia, and put out some decent records.

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Resolve is the official publication of the Australian Insurance Law Association and
the New Zealand Insurance Law Association.