The Story of Jerry the Giraffe – Liverpool Echo Arena car park fire


On New Year’s Eve 2017, over 1,000 vehicles were destroyed in the Liverpool Echo Arena car park fire while owners attended the International Horse Show. Among the 69 AXA customers who were affected, one case stood out.

On 31st December, a policyholder whose first name is Louise had parked her car on the first floor of the car park before heading off to the show. This area of the car park was not damaged by the flames, but the extreme heat of the blaze made the whole building structurally unsound, meaning none of the vehicles could be recovered.

While the car was deemed a total loss, Sonia Ford, Motor Claims Best Practice Manager at AXA, let Louise know the team were trying their best to reunite her with her personal possessions.

“During this conversation, Louise confirmed that the most sentimental item in the car was her son’s toy giraffe named Jerry,” said Sonia. “Although her son was 12 now, he was still hugely attached to Jerry, so Louise asked if we could do everything in our power to reunite them. Being a mum myself, I knew how important that special teddy would be, so I said that I would do everything I could.”

In October 2018 Liverpool County Council started demolishing the Echo Arena car park, but not before removing any undamaged vehicles. This is where luck came in: out of the 1,033 vehicles inside the car park at the time of the fire, all but 158 were completely burnt out. Louise’s car was one of the undamaged vehicles.

AXA instructed its approved salvage agent, Copart, to liaise with the local recovery company appointed by Liverpool County Council to collect the undamaged vehicles as they were removed. This was a long process, but during this time, AXA contacted the policyholder on a weekly basis to keep her updated. 

Finally, after weeks of chasing, Sonia received an e-mail confirming that Louise’s car had been removed from the car park. “I immediately contacted Copart, who swiftly found Jerry the Giraffe and contacted Louise to let her know he would be coming home,” said Sonia. “To make the story even more special, Copart’s National Account Manager, David Simmonite, personally collected Jerry from Chester and drove to Stockport to hand deliver him to her!”

“I called Louise again the next day to confirm that Jerry was home safe and sound, and that’s when she told me about the two other times that Jerry had been lost! She also said that the family had a celebration to mark Jerry the Giraffe’s return, which we reciprocated in the office!”

“While the story of Jerry the Giraffe is certainly heart-warming, it highlights the importance of insurers having a close relationship with their supply chain partners.

“Our supplier Copart was instrumental in helping find Jerry and this happy ending may not have been possible if they hadn’t been AXA’s sole partner for salvage services in motor.

“In 2017, we made the decision to have a single source for salvage services as part of our strategy to develop a partnership relationship, seeking alignment and innovation to enhance our customers’ claims journey.

“This story really shows what can be achieved when developing the right supply chain relationships and we are so grateful for all the hard work Copart put into this special case.” [Kirsty Heaton, Supply Chain Manager at AXA Insurance]

“We were delighted to able to reunite Jerry with his family following the traumatic time they had been through without him.

“At Copart we recognise that any claim can be stressful for a policyholder. Our culture is to ensure that we continuously go above and beyond to ensure their journey through the process is as seamless as possible.

“One of our values is to act with integrity and this story really highlights how important it is to show empathy towards our customers and appreciate the significance of what might appear to be a minor detail.

“By having the correct partnerships in place, we were able to play a valuable part in giving this traumatic story a happy ending.” [David Simmonite, National Account Manager at Coparte]


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