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Above and Beyond: Broker helps retirement home recover from devastating fire

Published 22 March 2018

When a fire broke out at Blue Hills Residences retirement home in Cranbourne in Melbourne, Gallagher Senior Account Executive Robyn Spiteri was able to provide on-the-ground support and guidance to the facility manager.Blue Hills Residences fire damageThe fire is believed to have started in the roof of a recreational complex on the Blue Hills Residences site on Wednesday 14 March 2018. The multipurpose building included a pool house and swimming pool, as well as a Men’s Shed and other activities space, and was in close proximity to the retirement home’s chapel.

The complex was not only used by residents. The Cranbourne Day Care & Kindergarten Centre used the pool, as well as the home’s grounds for after-school care and holiday programs, and it was also the venue for junior swimming classes conducted by an external instructor. 

Timely action

Robyn was in the Cranbourne area when she was alerted to the fire. She could literally see the smoke! She urgently contacted her client, Blue Hills Residences Manager Jodie Mitchell, who provided information enabling Robyn to email the facility’s insurance company immediately from her laptop.

Robyn called the Gallagher Warragul office for policy details, then advised the insurer, Pen Underwriting, of the situation and requested an assessor attend the site urgently. The Pen team had been monitoring the situation via television reports. Working with the Warragul office, they appointed an assessor and advised Robyn, rapidly meeting the need for the claims process to be activated urgently.Blue Hills Residences fire make safe

After confirming some key information with both Gallagher and Robyn, Pen then sent up-to-date certificates which the Warragul office immediately forwarded to Jodie. With the benefit of this time-critical background support from the Warragul and Pen teams, Robyn coordinated communications between the insurer, the assessor and Blue Hills Residences to set the relevant claims in motion.

While the Country Fire Authority was still on site Jodie acted on the local council engineer’s make-safe instructions for erecting temporary fencing to isolate the affected area so the facility could continue its regular functions for residents. Because Blue Hills Residences has a sister facility across the road, residents were able to use the Blue Hills Rise pool, and their own chapel reopened on the Sunday after the fire.

Fast response

Blue Hills Residences fire make safe crewBy activating the facility’s business interruption insurance Jodie was able to start sourcing portables to house the Men’s Shed and after-school childcare services, submitting her plans to the council for approval quickly. Robyn was also present and able to provide guidance during Jodie’s interview with the CFA, giving her practical support in real time.

Robyn praised Jodie’s proactive approach to returning the facility to its normal functions, and noted the council’s support and all those involved in the claim process in achieving this. “Everyone is helping make that happen, which is great,” she said.

Continuing support

Jodie sent Robyn a personal note of thanks for her swift and professional action, saying that it had helped her tremendously.

“Your team was nothing short of amazing,” she wrote. “Gallagher took all the stress out of the process and coordinated the insurers’ make-safe crew.

“Robyn was also there to talk to the fire inspectors who arrived that evening. Over the next couple of days she rang constantly to ensure we were coping and visited me personally to go through my cover and explain what it all meant and what I could do."

One week after the fire Jodie was able to provide alternative after-school accommodation and reopen the workshop facility.

“It’s been a journey I never wanted to take but one made easier by wonderful support.”

Let us help you

As your insurance broker, Gallagher can help to mitigate your risks and minimise what could close down your business, should the unexpected happen. If you would like to know more about how we can help you, please contact one of our experts.

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