Icepak insurer's tough decision

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Insurance companies will play a key role in the future of Icepak coolstores at Tamahere with their decisions likely to have far reaching consequences for the company as a whole and, according to media reports, the insurers themselves.

Insurance investigators were quickly on the scene at Tamahere after the April 5 fire and their findings, including into the cause and nature of the fire, will determine if Icepak is compensated for its losses and by how much.

But the insurers’ decisions have implications beyond Icepak’s future at Tamahere as this story in The Australian newspaper on international insurance giant IAG (Insurance Australia Group) shows.

In New Zealand, IAG’s brands include State Insurance and NZI, which is understood to be one of Icepak’s insurers.

The Australian story notes that IAG was already having a tough time in New Zealand before the Icepak fire. See this later post for IAG’s response.

“New Zealand is a tough and expensive business to run with few rewards. In the last six months, IAG lost $20 million in New Zealand due to a competitive market and big claims. It is expected to make further losses in the second half of the full year.

“IAG is believed to have an exposure to the Icepack Coolstore fire at Tamahere in New Zealand in April. Six men were injured and up to $25 million worth of cheese was destroyed in that incident.” [NB: Firefighter Derek Lovell died as a result of the explosion on April 5 and seven of his fellow Hamilton fire crew were badly injured.]

Insurance payouts are never made easily but having the insurer’s own future on the line will add a new level of complexity and degree of difficulty to the Icepak case.

Icepak, which began life in Tamahere and now has coolstores at Waharoa, Otaki and Wanganui, is collectively known as Icepak Group. It was twice named in the Deloitte/Unlimited Fast 50 index of fast growing New Zealand companies, entering the list at number 33 in 2005 with revenue growth of 245.18% and rising to 27th in 2006 with revenue growth of 230.89%. It was not on the list in 2007.

Icepak featured in profiles of the 2006 index on the Deloitte website as late as June 9 as this webpage cached by Google shows. The page has since been removed from the website.

Tamahere Forum noted here that Hamilton industrial design company, Design Management Consultants, also removed reference to Icepak on its website in June.

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