Home NZ Common Sense The Deconstruction of a Fire

The Deconstruction of a Fire




I received this from my insurance broker.

At 1:15pm, Tuesday 22nd October a fire broke out on the roof of the New Zealand International Convention Centre in Auckland. Close to 100  construction workers were on site at the time.

What followed?

–          Large scale disruption for over 48hours forcing areas of the central business district to be shut down, in part by the smoke that was deemed toxic. 

–          Media organisations including TVNZ were impacted by building evacuations and street closures, leading to disruptions in national broadcasts and programming.

–          The Sky City complex had to be shut down, including the casino, hotel and carpark.

–          A public health alert was issued by the Auckland Regional Public Health Service advising residents to stay away from the smoke where possible.

–          Contaminated water that had collected in the basement of the building was pumped out into the Viaduct Harbour.

–          Reports indicated there were approximately 100 vehicles submerged in water in the basement carpark.

–          Auckland Council issued a safety warning to residents as toxicology tests were being conducted to determine if the water posed a threat to human health or sealife.

–          By the Tuesday evening, it had been classified as a “sixth-alarm”, the highest category of response for an urban fire in New Zealand. 

By Friday 25th October, the fire was out, leading to the next phase – dealing with the physical and financial impact for businesses and individuals. 

Important Learnings you can take from this event.

► Liability. You can never be absolutely sure something won’t happen. It does despite the best procedures and systems. You can minimise your financial risk with appropriate liability cover. This also demonstrates that $1m isn’t anywhere near enough cover these days!

► Business & Personal Assets – your items can be affected by events that don’t even take place in your own property! Fire damage, smoke damage and water damage can all be covered by your insurance policy

► Business interruption / loss of access.  Just because an event hasn’t damaged your premises, this doesn’t mean you won’t be affected. Losing business because access to your premises is restricted is a real risk and happens more often than you might think.

Motor Insurance. We hope the vehicles parked in the basement of the Sky City complex were insured because they’ll all be considered write-off’s due to being submerged in water for the duration of the fire.  The electrics, mechanics and interiors will all be well beyond repair.  Comprehensive Insurance will cover this, but if you only held Third Party cover you’d likely find your loss isn’t insured.

So what about the Convention Centre itself? 

There is likely a Contract Works policy in place, which covers property during construction.

► The policy can pay to repair or redo the work in progress if it’s damaged by an insured event, including the costs of demolition.

► Contract Works should be arranged any time you are considering renovating or extending or building from scratch. 

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  1. Timely reminder from your broker and best considered carefully. There will be some uncovered losses in the Convention Centre matter and lessons hard learnt. Better to have cover than go bust.



    • It really annoys me the number of people who bleat, “the government must pay compensation”. That is what insurance is for, to cover you when things go bad. Take your chances if you play roulette and choose not to take out insurance.



      • I used to own a 67′ Notchback. The guy who serviced and managed them had quite a few in his garage at any one time and he was a firm believer in no insurance. The monthly premiums were too much; he was better off carrying that risk himself. (His words, not mine)

        At one stage he showed me the mint, gorgeous, numbers matching GT500KR that he had behind the garage itself. There is no way I’d have that car anywhere on my premises without insurance. I’m not that willing to take risk, I was born in South Africa. Insurance – well, it pretty much feels compulsory.

        But I can understand when people choose to take their chances. He made a decision not to take out insurance and took care of it himself. But then though, as you say, they should accept any losses that come from their decision.



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