“Know boats, me.”

December 03, 2012

It’s one of those wonderful sayings you hear around the quay or bar a lot. It’s mostly spoken when someone makes an obvious and usually very public mistake. It is one of those classic, laconic and ironic statements. It is as Australian as calling people by their Surname, especially if it is shortened, or even lengthened, by adding a ‘y’, ‘o’ or ‘ie’ to the end of it.

Now in the case of Pantaenius Adam ‘Brownie’ BrownAustralia’s entire staff, however, it serves another purpose all together. It actually describes each and every single one of them. As sailors, Crew Chiefs, drivers of fast machines, they have raced, delivered and traversed waters all over Australia and around the world. So you get the picture that they really do know boats. As a result of all of that, one garners a deep understanding of, real appreciation for, and then dedication to crucial maritime values, such as safety, risk minimisation, preparation, training and seamanship.

What’s the importance of all of that? Well, it simply serves to make you a better insurer. You get the risk involved. Subsequently, you can go on to price it accordingly. Then, if a claim is made, you already know the very kind of things that will have occurred and importantly, what needs to be done to rectify things promptly, appropriately and to the correct standard.

Pantaenius Australia’s Claims Manager is Adam ‘Brownie’ Brown. In 2014 he’ll join the 25 Sydney to Hobart races club, which is just one measure of his overall experience. He’ll partake in the 70th iteration of this classic aboard Paul Clitheroe’s, Balance. Sitting down with Adam beforehand to learn about Pantaenius the company and his role in it, we got to ask the following questions:

Q: Is there one thing all your nautical miles have taught you?
A: Camaraderie is the key, along with safety. I enjoy being competitive and the team aspect, along with challenging myself, as no ocean race is the same from a boat, weather, or crew perspective.

Q: You started with Pantaenius Australia 22 months ago. What were the key aspects you knew you could bring to the organisation and its clients?
A: That would have to be understanding. My background is with Spinlock and Harken, so not only is there an intimate knowledge of deck gear, but as a direct result I’ve built a thorough comprehension of engineering as it pertains to load distribution, construction methods, sail cloth and cordage technology, most specifically, the safe operation of systems at sea.
There is an innate knowledge of boating developed over the three decades I have been around the water and boat building. For instance, there is much anecdotal information around the pros and cons of standing and running rigging, but it is experience that tells you that it is not to be dealt with by the book, rather on a case-by-case evaluation.
In my time I have met a lot of people and understand the different needs and skill levels of owners. Experience does matter, so with the Pantaenius team, the insured gets looked after, as we are familiar with how quickly an incident can occur. In terms of power craft that encompasses engines and gearboxes, propeller shafts, bearings and through-hull fittings. When required, we access the best mechanical engineers and surveyors to assist in achieving the quickest and best solution. By way of example, once you’ve had to suck Diesel through a fuel line to bleed the system, the taste stays with you for a quite a few hours and then the memory never leaves you!

Q: What are the key differences with a policy from Pantaenius?
A: I really do know that our policy is transparent, with no hidden surprises. You are buying an identifiable product, which is a direct result of being an all-risk versus named peril policy. You have an agreed, fixed value for peace of mind and we are the only one with a wear and tear clause, which in the case of the claim, means we pay for the consequential damage, inclusive a of a latent defect.
With a partial claim, we cap our depreciation at 30%, as opposed to other organisations that continue their depreciation all the way to 100%. Take a boat that gets hit by lightning, with a resultant $10,000 damage to its instruments. We would pay $7,000, whereas others may tell you that you have to buy a new set on your own. In my view that’s a cracking deal. Pantaenius also pay 100% of the labour involved, which is most expensive component in a partial claim.
Another very interesting item is that Pantaenius have the most comprehensive Third Part Liability cover. We cover everyone on your craft, which a lot of the others do not seem to offer. So if family or friends are in command of your vessel, they will still be covered.

Q: So what kind of craft does Pantaenius cover?
A: Global cruisers have certainly been enamoured with our policy, which is terrific. We also look after your family’s displacement day-sailer, ocean racer, blue water sportsfisherman, mega yacht, as well as power and sailing multihulls. During my time, I have been on a sand bank, lost a rig and gone through a Man Overboard for real. From that you do get to understand the difficulties of it all and what other types of boaters may experience.

Q: Please describe how you build relationships with Pantaenius Australia’s clients?
There are so very few that are not delightful to deal with and they all have wonderful experiences with Pantaenius’ overseas offices. Pantaenius clients do become family at a personal level and they are the true believers in our great product. Listening to their collection of wonderful experiences and tales was not listed in my job description, but we should add it for incoming staff.
The biggest buzz comes form seeing how truly delighted they are about being informed as to what their insurance really is. In the past, policy documents would have been the least read item in boating. Our education on signing highlights our 40 key differences relating to transparency and our new family members totally appreciate the explanation. They also love that we won’t take a week or longer to call them back.

Q: How is a claim different with an insurer like Pantaenius?
A: First and foremost you talk with a boating person who is the cover holder. We act immediately on behalf of the insured and underwriters. Pantaenius is more efficient, which prevents additional issues from occurring and reduces frustration as time and costs blow out.
One person will set the ball in motion from your first phone call and can make instantaneous decisions, including reaching our network of contacts, which is a direct benefit of the collective amount of time the team has in the business.
Pantaenius enjoys a global reputation for paying claims promptly and efficiently. Here in Australia we are no different. Part of the reason is the amount of due diligence performed at the start of your contract. This includes approving the survey, rig and mooring reports, as well as addressing any issues relating to potential defects there and then, and not at the time of any subsequent claim.

Q: As Pantaenius cover a lot of craft all over the globe, what is the best way for people to prepare material for submitting a claim?
A: We have a double-sided flyer that you receive with your policy documentation and it highlights the key aspects. Suffice to say that the best bet is to be up front. We’ll appoint a surveyor if required. Get your information into a suitable and easy to assess format with as many pictures and details as is practicable. This includes Police reports where required.

Q: What are the events Pantaenius is sponsoring and supporting currently?
A: Sail Port Stephens is our flagship community involvement project currently. We also deploy our RIB and marks for things like the Sydney 38 Championships and other grass root titles. Selected other and non-sailing events are working with us to deliver great results for all boaties.

Q: What did you take away from surviving the infamous ’98 Hobart on Sword of Orion, which you had to abandon when she broke up?
A: Obviously it did not turn me off. However, you need a well-prepared boat, as everything has to be going for you when it all heads South. It emphasises what is required from a safety point of view. You have to trust your crew and know in detail what their strengths are. It was interesting to see how differing the methodologies for survival were, all inside 45 feet. You have to respect the sea and support your fellow sailor. Appreciating the risks involved and how quickly they can change or evolve is always on my mind now.

Q: What is the one thing you’d like to say to your valued clients before they embark on their voyages?
A: For most people, owning their own boat and cruising the world is a lifetime dream, so why would you risk losing the lot because you did not read the fine print? The other thing is to remain humble, for the ocean and environment can get very harsh.

To be part of the team that knows boats and the kinds of things you want to head off and see, go to www.pantaenius.com.au or call +61 2 9936 1670 today.