New Zealand’s Waterview Connection tunnel project is in good hands
View of the Auckland Motorway network, showing works of the Waterview Connection in relation to other parts of the network. Auckland, New Zealand.
- Red – existing network, not affected by Waterview works.
- Light blue – existing network, added traffic lanes.
- Purple – new surface section of Waterview works.
- Dark blue – tunnelled section of Waterview works.
Like any construction project, tunnels need insurance and risk management.
That’s what industrial insurance company HDI Global SE is doing for the recently-completed Waterview Connection project in Auckland, New Zealand. The Well-Connected Alliance, comprising the New Zealand Transport Agency and several engineering, contracting, and construction organizations, built the project on the New Zealand government’s behalf. The Waterview Connection now provides a direct route between Auckland’s Central Business District and the International Airport.
The project consists of a new motorway and a pair of three-lane tunnels that succeed the Lyttelton road tunnel as the longest in the country, spanning 2.4 km. The tunnels cost around NZ$1.7 billion (around US$1.2 billion)–including the NZ$39 million tunnel boring machine named Alice, after the character from Alice in Wonderland. Officials expect that the tunnels will eventually handle at least 90,000 vehicles per day.
Insurance companies like HDI Global SE exist to insure against business risks.
HDI Global SE Australia is the lead insurer out of a panel of insurers. It has covered the Well-Connected Alliance with a comprehensive Construction All Risk policy that accounts for engineering risks, accidental damage, and fire and natural hazards. Alice has her own separate Plant and Machinery policy.
Now that the project is complete and open to the public, however, the insurance policy still continues. The project will remain insured for the next two years, with the addition of a maintenance warranty clause which adds coverage against manufacturing defects and other issues.
“This could be the case, for instance, if an appreciable quantity of water were to penetrate the tunnel after protracted heavy rainfall – for example because the lining used to seal the tunnel was accidentally perforated during installation,” explained Rolf Heyke. Heyke is Underwriting Manager of Engineering for Australasia, and underwrote the Waterview Connection project.
While an industrial insurance company such as HDI Global SE may not be of immediate consequence to civilians who may use the bridge, civilians should be glad that construction projects have access to such broad coverage. Anything constructed, from tunnels to skyscrapers, is usually quite expensive, and comes with lots of risk that governments, agencies, and contractors spare little expense to avoid. Spending $1.2 billion on a pair of tunnels is not always easy, even for a government.
If something does happen, if a seal around one of the tunnels actually was perforated like in Heyke’s example and the tunnel were to flood, that’s not just a big concern for the wellbeing of the tunnel but for the safety of those who use it. Insurance companies like HDI Global SE do not only protect the Well-Connected Alliance financially, but they also enable the Alliance to address any such problems quickly without having to wait for funding or bring major inconvenience or risk to Auckland’s travellers.
The insurance broker, AON, recommended HDI Global SE because of the broadness of the coverage, local risk consulting services, and claims handling that the company offered at a competitive price.
The Waterview Connection is New Zealand’s largest and most ambitious road infrastructure project. It opened in early July 2017. Videos of the construction process can be found here.
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