March 2016


Roger's revved up about claims

By Kate Tilley, Editor, Resolve

Self-confessed petrol head Roger Scholes is probably hard pressed to say whether he loves his job or his racing car most.

But there's no doubt his wife, Anne, is at the top of the list.

British-born Roger met Anne in a London hotel in May 1972 after she had been travelling around Europe with a friend. He almost blew the fledgling romance by assuming her "funny accent" was Australian. He was soon set straight that she was a Kiwi and only three months later he moved to New Zealand to be with her.

They're still happily married, proud parents of Richard and Alexandra, and grandparents to Alexandra's eight-year-old son Liam.

Roger joined the insurance industry in the UK in 1968, when he established a business working with loss adjusters to remove salvageable property following insured losses to a warehouse equipped with facilities to dry, sort and store damaged goods before they were sold.

When he moved to NZ in August 1972, Roger continued in the industry, initially handling marine claims, then motor claims for the company that is now AMI. "That was when every claimant had to be interviewed face to face. Oh how things have changed," he told Resolve. "It was an excellent training ground."

In April 1975, Roger was employed by Monarch Insurance in Wellington as an underwriter and then in a head office role responsible for underwriting and claims. In 1977, following a reorganisation, he had the choice of specialising in either claims or underwriting. Claims it was, and he became Monarch's NZ Claims Manager, continuing in the role as Monarch morphed into Cigna and then Ace.

Roger joined Lumley General as Technical Claims Manager in September 2010 and has continued in a similar role since IAG's purchase of Lumley.

Although he is now 70 years old, Roger has not planned his retirement and has no intention of stopping work "although I might consider reduced hours in the future", he said.

Golf, tennis or fishing are not on the radar, but Roger is fanatical about cars and, particularly, his Nissan R35 GTR racing car. He regularly attends track days and has driven and navigated in several Targa tours around NZ.

Roger says, for insurance purposes, the track days are "not racing; we just drive around the track very fast".

Over the past decade, Roger has owned many sports cars, including four Porsches, a BMW M3 and two Nissan R35 GTRs. Between the ages of 15 and 60, he owned 53 motorcycles, although not all at once.

Roger's personalised number plate is CLAIMS, and it has been transferred across many vehicles since he bought it. "On a couple of occasions my car has been vandalised and, to this day, I wonder if I had upset someone by declining their claim," he said.

Roger says claims have been his life for more than 45 years and he has no regrets. "I never get bored and every day has brought new challenges. I have handled claims in many parts of the world, including the United States, Guam, India, China, Australia and many European countries. Each jurisdiction has brought its own challenges – in claims you have to be able to think on your feet and adjust rapidly."

He acknowledges the claims manager is but one member of a team that works together to achieve settlement. "Frequently my team will consist of lawyers, loss adjusters and experts and it is the team effort that achieves the result."

Roger has been involved in NZILA almost since it started. Most of that time he has been on the committee and,was vice president for several years. Although he did not aspire to the top job, saying that was easier for someone with secretarial staff who could assist the president.

As a committee member, Roger has always encouraged not just lawyers, but adjusters, brokers and claims handlers to participate in NZILA. "Our annual conferences are wonderful opportunities for everybody involved in claims work to get together and socialise.

"On many occasions the fact I have previously met the lawyer acting against me on a claim, at an NZILA function, has made it easier to relate to him or her when dealing with the claim. Putting a face to a name is frequently helpful when dealing with the legal fraternity."

Richard Scholes has followed in his father's footsteps. Although he studied ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics at university, after graduation he joined an insurer and has been handling claims for the last 15 years.

Alexandra, who studied biological anthropology, now works in the IT industry.

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