Given Eoin Lawless’s legal background, it was inevitable that ended up working in liability.
‘I enjoy solving complex problems, which, of course, aren’t limited to liability, but do tend to occur in the field more often,’ Lawless says.
A SOCIAL BUNCH
After leaving university with a Bachelor of Arts Degree and about one third of his law degree, New Zealand-based Lawless says he ‘drifted into insurance’.
‘I had friends working in the industry and they were a very social bunch,’ he recalls. 'Having had some exposure to insurance law, it seemed like a good fit at the time. And it was.
‘People who have never worked in insurance think it’s boring. It’s anything but.
‘There are an endless variety of businesses and people to deal with and problems to solve. The challenges are both intellectual and practical.’
SOLVING HOPELESS CASES
For Lawless, however, the most satisfying aspect of his work is going into a dispute where one party’s case looks completely hopeless and coming out with an agreement anyway.
An independent loss adjuster specialising in liability claims, Lawless has 30 years’ experience in the insurance industry spanning liability, complex material damage, construction, marine and financial lines.
He holds a Master of Law from Auckland University and a Post Graduate Diploma in Business and Administration from Massey University.
CYBER INSURANCE CHALLENGE
In 2016, he established a specialist business, Cyberadjusters, when a claims manager colleague expressed frustration at the time and cost involved in settling a cyber claim.
Cyberadjusters combined Lawless’s expertise in law and insurance with his partner Gerard Ward’s expertise in digital forensics and business systems.
‘We are both now working with Integra Technical Services, which has a similar collegial philosophy and capacity throughout the Asia-Pacific region and worldwide,’ Lawless says.
At the time Cyberadjusters was formed, cyber insurance was a new product and Lawless suspects it is still not well understood today.
‘A major data breach requires a quick but informed response. Learning as you go based on experience in other areas isn’t a good approach.’
Lawless says most of his current work involves mediating and adjudicating disputes under New Zealand’s Accident Compensation Act.
‘All of my previous experience as a claims manager, litigator and loss adjuster has prepared me well for this role,’ he says.
‘It requires interviewing skills, finding facts, sorting the relevant from the irrelevant, communicating effectively with people from different backgrounds, managing stressful situations and helping people to understand someone else’s point of view.
‘It also involves building consensus and if all else fails applying the law to the facts, making a decision and explaining that decision.’
As facilitator of the next ANZIIF Liability webinar, to be held 27 March, Lawless will help attendees build on the skills and knowledge provided in the previous session held last year, which focussed on negligence.
In terms of liability, he says negligence accounts for most of the claims against insureds.,’ he says.
‘The coming webinar will look at some of the other common torts and explore some more policy conditions and reducing quantum by applying betterment and spreading responsibility through contribution.’
INVEST TIME IN LEARNING
Liability claims that are not handled well from the outset become expensive, time-consuming and ruin relationships.
‘We need to make sure of our facts, apply the law correctly and understand how the policy responds. We need to invest time in learning.’
Don't miss the ANZIIF Liability 201 Webinar and stay tuned for Liability 301.