Insurance Business 10.04

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YO Specia UN l r G G epo UN rt S2 02 1 Issue 10.04


What eight insurers are doing to boost diversity and inclusion


Potential threats that are top of mind in the lead-up to the Games


What will it take for insurance to become truly digital?

SERVING THE BROKER Outgoing NIBA chief executive Dallas Booth looks back on 10 years of advocating for brokers

ELITE WOMEN IN INSURANCE Celebrating 42 of the industry’s top female trailblazers

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ISSUE 10.04

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UPFRONT 04 Editorial

Inaction on climate change could cost the industry dearly

06 Statistics

Key data that should be on your radar

08 News analysis FEATURES



What leading insurers are doing to make tangible progress on diversity and inclusion




SPECIAL REPORT IB spotlights 41 enterprising young professionals who are bringing new ideas and fresh energy to Australia’s insurance sector

12 Insurer update

An inside look at QBE’s new head office

14 Underwriting agencies update

Agile Underwriting Services offers relief in a challenging D&O market

16 Opinion

As telehealth options grow, so does the need for cyber risk management

Five ways to give up control and embrace success

70 From small changes to huge gains

Three minor adjustments that will result in a huge productivity boost


As he prepares to step down from the top job at NIBA, Dallas Booth reflects on 10 years of looking out for brokers


An e-scooter company introduces third-party cover

66 Start trusting your team


10 Intelligence


ELITE WOMEN IN INSURANCE The insurance industry still suffers from a lack of female leadership – but these 42 trailblazers are working hard to change that

As the Tokyo Olympics forge ahead, what are the event’s biggest risks?

60 The big 4-0

GSK Insurance Brokers’ Graham Knight on what’s kept his brokerage going strong for four decades


72 Other life

When floods strike, broker Richard Dunn comes to the rescue



Why becoming a truly digital insurer involves more than simply selling insurance products online



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A ticking stink bomb


limate protesters laid a sensory assault on Lloyd’s of London in June, setting off a stink bomb outside the main entrance of the world’s oldest insurance marketplace to protest its ongoing support of fossil fuel projects. Two months earlier, the same group of activists, known as Insurance Rebellion, used a tipper truck to dump a large pile of fake coal at Lloyd’s headquarters. If a literal stink bomb isn’t enough to grab the industry’s attention, how about a stink of a more figurative nature? In what should be a serious wake-up call to the insurance industry, oil and gas giant Exxon Mobil was recently brought to its knees by a tiny activist hedge fund over its climate strategy. On May 26, a little-known investment firm named Engine No. 1, which holds a stake of just US$50m in the US-based energy behemoth, staged a successful coup in which it managed to unseat two of Exxon’s board members and replace them with nominees who will pressure the company’s leadership to increase its efforts to combat climate change. The successful climate coup, supported by British insurer Legal & General Group, which has a US$1.5bn stake in Exxon, should serve as a stark warning for other public companies, including insurers.

Simply publishing grand statements about reaching net zero carbon by 2050 will not satisfy the demands of climate-conscious investors Stink bombs aside, the pressure is rising for insurance leaders to ‘walk the walk’ with energy transition. Simply publishing grand statements about reaching net zero carbon by 2050 will not satisfy the demands of climate-conscious investors. They are demanding – through dissident boardroom politics, if necessary – that insurers retract any ongoing support for the fossil fuel industry and cease insuring new oil and gas projects. This puts some insurers in a tight bind. Many have legacy contracts and investments that are perhaps contrary to current demands around energy transition and climate change. It can be challenging to wind down portfolios and shift business priorities at a speed that matches the ever-growing wave of climate change realisation around the world. But the one thing insurers cannot do is nothing. When it comes to climate change, actions really do speak louder than words. The team at Insurance Business

EDITORIAL Managing Editor Paul Lucas Senior Editor Bethan Moorcraft Journalists Maria Hoyle, Ryan Smith, Ksenia Stepanova, Mia Wallace News Writers Lyle Adriano, Terry Gangcuangco, Roxanne Libatique, Gabriel Olano Copy Editor Clare Alexander

CONTRIBUTORS Alicia Marsiglia, Gustavo Razzetti, Amantha Imber

ART & PRODUCTION Designer Joenel Salvador Production Coordinators Kat Guzman, Loiza Razon Customer Success Coordinator Isabella Concepcion

SALES & MARKETING General Manager Peter Smith Commercial Development Manager Sophie Knight

CORPORATE Chief Executive Officer Mike Shipley Chief Operating Officer George Walmsley Managing Director Justin Kennedy Chief Information Officer Colin Chan Human Resources Manager Julia Bookallil Editorial Enquiries Subscription Enquiries Advertising Enquiries

Key Media Australia (Insurance) Pty Ltd tel: +61 2 8437 4700 fax: +61 2 9439 4599 Offices in Sydney, Auckland, Denver, London, Toronto, Manila

Insurance Business is part of an international family of B2B publications, websites and events for the insurance industry Insurance Business America T +1 720 316 0151 Insurance Business Canada T +1 416 644 874O Insurance Business NZ T +61 2 8437 47O8 Insurance Business UK T +44 20 7193 0935 Insurance Business Asia T +61 2 8437 47OO Copyright is reserved throughout. No part of this publication can be reproduced in whole or part without the express permission of the editor. Contributions are invited, but copies of work should be kept, as the magazine can accept no responsibility for loss.


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THANK YOU FOR YOUR NOMINATIONS Insurance Business would like to thank its readers for the incredible response to the call for nominations for the 2021 Insurance Business Awards. It’s great to see so many talented professionals and organisations within the insurance industry who have excelled during an extraordinary year. Excellence Awardees will be announced in August. Winners will be revealed live and celebrated at the highly anticipated black-tie awards gala on 12 November at The Star Sydney.

BE PART OF THE INDUSTRY EVENT OF THE YEAR Visit for table reservations or sponsorship opportunities

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US 50% 40% 30% 20%


18% 18% 17% 14%






44% 35%

31% 34%

20% 10%



of SMEs say providing seamless, on-demand delivery of products and services is currently a top priority

Q2 2020

Q3 2020

Q4 2020

Q1 2021




say offering tailored products and services that meet the needs of multiple generations is their top priority right now


of SMEs say adopting artificial intelligence is their top priority over the next three years

Global commercial insurance prices rose by an average of 18% in the first quarter of 2021, according to Marsh, marking 14 consecutive quarters of price increases. However, the pace of the price growth seems to have moderated, falling from 22% in the fourth quarter of 2020. Marsh attributed this trend primarily to slower rates of increase in property insurance and financial and professional lines. Cyber insurance diverged from the trend, however, posting a rate increase of 35% for the first quarter, double the increase from Q4 2020.

LATIN AMERICA 50% 40% 30% 20% 10%






OPENNESS TO CAPTIVE INSURERS GROWS WORLDWIDE The volatile insurance market is prompting more companies to explore the possibility of forming a captive, according to a recent study by Swiss Re. Globally, almost half of companies are open to forming a captive, although the figure is considerably higher in APAC.





North America






36% 64%

Latin America






of SMEs currently have sufficient technology to implement and use AI Source: Digital Business Accelerated, Chubb and Accenture


Source: “Hard market solutions: captive insurance thrives in tough times,” Swiss Re

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Implementation of the new IFRS 17 insurance contract standard is expected to cost the global insurance industry between US$15bn and US$20bn, according to a Willis Towers Watson study of 312 insurers from 50 countries. However, WTW found that the costs vary greatly depending on insurer size.

40% 30% 20%


15% 15% 14% 13%





30% 20% 10%

9% 12% 11%


Large insurers (major multinationals) will pay between US$175m and US$200m


Smaller insurers will pay around US$20m

8% PACIFIC 50% 40%





40% 30% 20%

35% 31% 33% 29%

19% 20% 22% 18%




10% 0%

Source: Marsh Global Insurance Market Index Q1 2021


CYBER LEADS AMONG EMERGING RISK CONCERNS Cyber was rated as the most important emerging risk by nearly 1,000 organisations recently surveyed by Marsh, underlining the interconnectedness and technological dependence of industries. A combined 92% of respondents identified cyber as an important or the most important emerging risk. Most important


Cyber 45%



Least important




Emerging technology 50%


Pandemic 37%

While the pandemic has motivated a large majority of companies worldwide to recognise the importance of employee wellbeing, a recent Aon survey found that many lack a strategy to address it, which can negatively impact their culture, talent attraction and performance objectives.


Regulatory 43%

Source: Willis Towers Watson





of companies consider employee wellbeing a priority


of companies currently have a wellbeing strategy in place

Geopolitical 55%


13% 54%

33% Source: Marsh Risk Resilience Report

Source: 2021 Global Wellbeing Survey, Aon

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Hurdling the Tokyo Olympics Organising the Olympic Games is a monumental task even in a normal environment. During these extraordinary times, what risks loom largest over the Tokyo Summer Olympics? “BARRING ARMAGEDDON that we can’t see or anticipate, these things are a go.” Those were the words of senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Richard Pound during a recent interview discussing the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. Ever since the Games were postponed in March 2020, the question on the lips of organisers, sponsors, athletes, insurers and the public has

involved, including the athletes, local spectators and supporting staff. To mitigate against health risks associated with the event, the IOC is working with the city of Tokyo, the government of Japan and the World Health Organisation to make the Games as safe as possible. The committee has also issued a series of playbooks with advice on practices like social distancing, mask-wearing, testing, hygiene,

“The biggest trial, beyond the obvious economic and political considerations, will be maintaining the health and safety of all involved” Robert L. Quigley, International SOS been whether the Olympics will be postponed again or even cancelled. It’s a pertinent question, given the variety of risks posed by running an international event of this scale during a global pandemic. According to Dr. Robert L. Quigley, SVP and global medical director at International SOS, “the biggest trial, beyond the obvious economic and political considerations, will be maintaining the health and safety of all

etc. Japanese healthcare officials have been promoting these best mitigation practices since the declaration of the pandemic, and they cannot be overstated.” Overall, Quigley says, the Games will be smaller and look different from previous years, especially with officials effectively banning spectators from outside of Japan. That restriction didn’t come as a surprise, as much of the world remains unvaccinated,

including Japan, and variants of COVID-19 continue to spread across borders. Paul Gilbert, director of McLarens’ global entertainment and contingency practice group, points out that by the time the first international athlete has checked into the Olympic Village, event organisers will have almost a year’s worth of lessons from the successful implementation of various live sporting events during COVID-19. These include the NBA ‘bubble’ in Orlando, Florida, in 2020; the English Premier League; the Nippon Professional Baseball seasons; and the recent PGA Championship, which was held with more than 10,000 fans and softened social distancing and mask requirements. Because of this, Gilbert says, Olympic organisers now have a massive amount of knowledge on how to keep athletes, coaches, vendors, broadcasting partners and fans safe and healthy. “If you told organisers and their insurers, ‘The only risk you have to face is that of COVID-19,’ I think it would be a challenge they could confidently assess and manage,” he says. “Rapid testing is readily available and reliable, athletes and others exposed will be vaccinated at high percentages, and mitiga-


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83% Proportion of Japanese residents who oppose the country hosting the Olympics this year

$15.4bn Official cost of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, up 22% from last year

$25bn Minimum true cost of the event, according to audits from the Japanese government tion efforts such as social distancing and face coverings have been proven highly successful. These risk mitigation measures have all been in practice throughout sports, broadcasting, food and beverage service, hospitality, logistics, and social gatherings for a long enough time to make sure best practices are followed

terrorism threats, which a worldwide stage such as the Olympics provides a venue for. There are political and social justice risks worldwide that cause Olympic organisers concern. And finally, you have a global transportation system that is not yet fully open, and asking nearly every country in the

$3.5–$4bn Estimated amount of broadcast revenue that would be lost if the Games were cancelled Sources: Asahi Shimbun; Associated Press; all figures in US$

“Organisers don’t want a situation where every medal platform ceremony comes with an asterisk because the sport’s biggest stars are not present” Paul Gilbert, McLarens and the events can continue as planned, although with very important modifications and protocols.” However, Gilbert says, COVID-19 is far from the only risk at play – organisers also have to deal with the more traditional risks associated with live events of this scale. “There are weather threats with the Olympics being held during Japan’s typhoon season,” he says. “There are ever-present

world to send their Olympic personnel to Japan while there are travel restrictions in place could cause a problematic absence of marquee Olympic talent.” And there are always other medical and security risks that could affect athletes, local spectators and Japanese residents, Quigley says. This requires individuals to implement certain safety measures, such as planning trips well in advance and taking sensible

security precautions to mitigate against the risk of petty and street crime, especially at heavily congested transportation hubs and in crowded public spaces. Possibly the most pressing risk facing the Games, Gilbert says, is the growing sentiment among residents, the medical community and the business community in Japan against holding the event. “While this internal risk is the one that stands out as having the greatest likelihood to impact the events, the external concern of countries not sending their athletes, broadcasters and high-value sponsorship partnerships could equally affect the legitimacy and integrity of the 2021 Olympics,” he says. “Organisers do not want a situation where every medal platform ceremony comes with an asterisk because the sport’s biggest stars are not present.”

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360 Underwriting Solutions

TLC Insurance New Zealand

Its purchase of a majority equity stake in the boutique underwriting agency gives 360 a platform to expand its presence in the New Zealand market

The Ardonagh Group

BGC Partners

The acquisition includes (re)insurance broker Ed, Lloyd’s broker Besso, UK-based MGA Globe Underwriting and Australian underwriting agency Epsilon Underwriting


Willis Towers Watson

Part of a proposed regulatory remedy for the WTW-Aon merger, the US$3.57bn deal includes Willis Re’s treaty and facultative reinsurance business, along with some UK specialty, European and North American broking operations

HBF Health

CUA Health

CUA has offloaded its health insurance arm to Perth-based private health insurer HBF in an effort to focus on its core banking, mortgage and SME offerings


CommInsure General Insurance

Hollard has purchased CBA’s general insurance business and signed an exclusive 15-year distribution partnership with the bank

Resolution Underwriting Holdings and Ashbrooke Group


Sportscover has completed the sale of its European operations, which founder Peter Nash said will allow it to focus on growth in Asia-Pacific and North America

CFC introduces M&A policy for smaller deals

CFC Underwriting has rolled out a firstto-market transaction liability product designed to insure sellers of small businesses valued between US$250,000 and US$10m. The specialist insurance provider estimates the micro segment of the M&A space is worth nearly US$8bn in gross written premium. Its Transaction Liability Private Enterprise policy offers representations and warranties (R&W) cover for small and micro deals in the manufacturing, education, franchise, retail, leisure, hospitality and real estate sectors. The product is currently available in Australia, the UK, the US and Canada.

Hollard snaps up CBA unit

Following months of speculation, CBA revealed in mid-June that it had agreed to sell its Australian general insurance business to the Hollard Group. In addition to the sale of CommInsure General Insurance, the two companies have forged an exclusive 15-year partnership for Hollard to distribute home and motor insurance to CBA’s retail customers in Australia. The deal includes a $625m upfront consideration, plus deferred payments dependent upon achieving certain business milestones, as well as additional investment from Hollard throughout the duration of the strategic alliance. “The synergies between CBA and Hollard extend well beyond strategy and market segmentation,” said Hollard Holdings Australia managing director Richard Enthoven. “We have a shared vision for the future of home insurance, the potential for better customer outcomes and an exciting role for digital innovation along our entire value chain.”


Claim Central Consolidated unveils new brand

Claims solutions provider Claim Central Consolidated has launched Wilbur, a new brand for its global technology business and platforms. Wilbur provides a modular and connectable ecosystem of products and solutions for insurance businesses in Australia, New Zealand, the US and South Africa, designed to enable seamless customer experiences that get customers’ lives back to normal faster. Its flagship offering, Claim Suite, is a modular solution that includes Wilbur Claims Manager, Wilbur Connect, Wilbur Live (powered by Livegenic), Wilbur Repair and Wilbur Inspect.

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PEOPLE Neuron adds third-party cover for e-scooters

E-scooter rental outfit Neuron Mobility has begun offering third-party insurance for rental e-scooters in Australia and New Zealand, complementing its existing public liability and personal accident coverage. “The provision of third-party rider liability insurance goes well beyond what is required by law and further demonstrates our commitment to operating in the safest, most responsible way,” Neuron said, adding that it sees third-party insurance as crucial to improving the e-scooter industry and believes this brings the level of protection associated with its service in line with more traditional modes of transport.

CHU responds to buildto-rent trend

Strata insurance specialist CHU has developed a new insurance product for build-to-rent residential properties in response to a growing trend in the Australian market. Touted as the country’s first tailored insurance product designed specifically for build-to-rent properties, it insures the property and also provides liability insurance, machinery breakdown cover and catastrophe insurance. “The product gives brokers new opportunities in the insurance market,” said CHU CEO Kimberley Jonsson, noting that “there is a gap in the insurance market for these non-registered strata-style units”.

Aviso EIA launches taxi insurance in NSW

Aviso EIA Insurance Brokers and the New South Wales Taxi Council have partnered to launch Taxi Insure, a new program that aims to provide a one-stop shop for all taxi insurance requirements in NSW’s major cities. “Joining with Aviso EIA as a key partner in the NSW taxi industry ecosystem will deliver an ongoing essential range of quality insurance products and services for our NSW taxi operators and allow our members to consistently achieve the best possible solutions and pricing for one of the major operating costs of taxis,” said Greg Kay, partnerships head at the NSW Taxi Council.





Aimée McGuinness


Allianz Partners Australia

Chief sales officer

Andrew Beevors


MLC Life Insurance

Chief claims officer

Christine Bell


Swiss Re Corporate Solutions

Country head, Australia and New Zealand

David Hampton



Chief executive

Eben le Roux


Claim Central Consolidated

Group chief executive

Gary Dawson


Axis Underwriting

Executive director

Jason Knight

BNY Mellon

State Street Corporation

Global head, insurance segment

Paul Fahey



Chief executive

Tim Plant




Axis Underwriting founder steps down

Gary Dawson, who set up Melbourne-headquartered Axis Underwriting in 1999, has stepped down as managing director and chief executive. Taking the helm is Ivan Verescuk, who has been the underwriting agency’s general manager for seven years. As part of the leadership transition, Dawson will serve as executive director for the next 12 months. “I offer sincere thanks to Gary for his many years of outstanding service and his significant achievements,” said Axis Underwriting chair Gary Gribbin. “His is a legacy which will never be forgotten. And I offer my congratulations and best wishes to Ivan as he assumes the role of managing director and CEO.”

Claim Central Consolidated gets new CEO

Claim Central Consolidated (CCC) has named Eben le Roux as its new group chief executive. Le Roux first joined CCC in April 2020 as chief commercial officer before taking on the chief operating officer position, as well as the role of managing director for all geographies except the US. According to CCC’s founder and previous CEO, Brian Siemsen, le Roux’s arrival last year was all part of the leadership roadmap at CCC. Siemsen will remain with the company as executive director. “I have enjoyed the journey over the past 20-plus years as CEO, and with Eben ready to take on the top role, this gives me an excellent opportunity to work in areas of the business I love and where I can create the most value for the group,” Siemsen said.

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INSURER UPDATE NEWS BRIEFS High Court blocks business interruption test case appeal

The High Court has upheld the judgment in Australia’s first business interruption test case, denying the Insurance Council of Australia’s special leave to appeal. “While we are disappointed, this decision on the first test case provides us with certainty and allows the industry to focus on the issues to be resolved through the second test case underway in the Federal Court of Australia,” said ICA chief executive Andrew Hall. The peak body said insurers will respond to policyholders with BI claims on a case-by-case basis but added that most claims likely will not be finalised until further clarity from the second test case.

Howden launches “world’s first fully sustainable insurer”

International insurance broker Howden has launched Parhelion, which it touted as “the world’s first fully sustainable insurer.” Specialising in non-traditional risk issues that impact investment in the clean energy and climate finance markets, Parhelion will offer traditional risk coverage and also create new products focused on environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria. Charlie Langdale, head of sustainable insurance at Howden, described Parhelion as “an unencumbered, highly rated ESG-focused carrier, backed by fresh capital, that our clients can partner with and trust.”

Suncorp’s AAMI brand unveils virtual employee pilot program

In what it described as a world first for insurance, Suncorp Group brand AAMI has launched a digital employee pilot program. Developed in partnership with Soul Machines, AAMI’s virtual

human, Ava, is powered by autonomous animation technology and features a face and a patented digital brain. Customers can interact with Ava by turning on their microphone and camera and asking questions. In addition to a wealth of insurance knowledge, the virtual employee has a personality and emotional intelligence and can adapt to a customer’s face and tone.

New insurer launches with promise to pay out on day one

After securing $15.5m in seed funding, insurtech Honey Insurance has entered the Australian market, claiming to be the first smart home and contents insurance company in the country to pay out on day one. That payment comes in the form of $250 worth of smart home sensors, which are given to each customer in an effort to prevent avoidable claims. Honey also rewards customers with up to 8% off their premiums as soon as the sensors are installed and for each year they remain on.

ICA welcomes additional bushfire funding in NSW

The Insurance Council of Australia has praised the $268m in additional funding included in the latest NSW state budget to continue implementing the recommendations of the NSW Bushfire Inquiry. “Insurers have been calling for some time for this scale of investment in resilience and mitigation measures, and it’s good to see the New South Wales government has heard those calls,” said ICA chief executive Andrew Hall. However, the ICA pointed out that the new funding is tempered by the NSW government’s failure to reform state insurance taxes, which remain the highest in the country. As a result, many homeowners still lack adequate cover.

QBE moves to a new home The relocation contributes to the insurance group’s long-term sustainability goals by reducing operational emissions QBE has a new place to call home in the Sydney CBD. The insurer undertook the move with a goal of simplifying operations, improving collaboration and efficiency, and contributing to longer-term sustainability targets by reducing operational emissions. In an interview with Insurance Business, a spokesperson for QBE noted that the move “brings together our people from the group head office and our Australia Pacific division into one Sydney CBD head office.” Although the plans for the new headquarters were underway well before the events of 2020, the pandemic ultimately enabled the pivot to the new working environment. “QBE undertook a comprehensive review of the ways of working in developing its future workplace strategy through survey analysis, observational studies, interviews and workshops,” the spokesperson said. “A flexible approach to ways of working and an ability to work agile has been a key learning from 2020. Our new activity-based workplace supports our hybrid working environment with modern, state-of-the-art technology, making it easy to connect and collaborate with colleagues both in person and virtually.” It’s not clear how much of QBE’s roster is currently working flexibly between the office and home, but the new Sydney site is able


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to accommodate employees’ adjusted work arrangements. “Creating workspaces that reflect who we are and how we operate was a significant consideration for our people,” the spokesperson said. “QBE is proud of its commitment to a sustainable business, and sustainability and resource efficiency have been central to the building’s refurbished design.


Mark Leplastrier Executive manager, natural perils IAG

“Creating workspaces that reflect who we are and how we operate was a significant consideration” “We have chosen sustainably certified and low-emission materials throughout, including for furniture and building materials such as carpet, paint and timber; waterefficient fittings and appliances; energyefficient lighting and technology; and 100% renewable electricity.” Importantly, according to QBE, the new office was designed with employee experience and wellbeing top of mind. “We’re really thinking about work as something we do, rather than a place we go,” said Shiona Watson, QBE’s chief human resources officer for Australia Pacific. “We work flexibly, making the call on when we’re in the office or at home based on when it makes sense for the things we’re working on, where the rest of our team is and the needs of our customers.”

Years in the industry 20+ Fast fact An atmospheric scientist, Leplastrier specialises in exploring the impact of climate change and severe weather on insurance risk

A coordinated disaster approach With extreme weather events forecast to be more frequent and intense, how is IAG preparing from an insurance and risk mitigation perspective? Over the past couple of years, there has been a change in the national dialogue on climate change, sadly brought about by the Black Summer bushfires. It has raised the importance of examining what we can do better as a nation to mitigate the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters. We have a proud history of action on climate and continue to focus on collaboration across sectors. This includes engaging with governments, regulators and the insurance industry on climate policy; working with community organisations to improve climate resilience; and continuing to contribute research to address knowledge gaps on the physical risks of climate change. For example, we believe it’s important to have a central source of scientific information which can be built on, and this is one of the aims of the Severe Weather in a Changing Climate report, which we first released in 2019; after encouraging further collaboration and feedback, we released an updated version in September 2020. IAG also participates in the Insurance Council of Australia climate change action committee. We also released fact sheets on bushfire, flood and tropical cyclones to help people better understand and prepare for severe weather.

What were the biggest challenges following the recent flooding in Queensland and New South Wales? One of the challenges this event has highlighted is the amount of development in floodplains and the need to help communities and residents better understand their flood risk. For example, properties are often described as being at risk of a 1-in-100-year flood. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the property will only flood once every 100 years. It means the AEP [annual exceedance probability] is 1%, so there’s a 1% risk of flooding every year. In addition, floods much rarer than 1% AEP can occur and have devastating impacts on communities. Many people are likely to be at a higher risk of flooding over their lifetime than they realise.

What’s on the agenda for IAG when it comes to disasters? We believe we need a coordinated national approach from governments, industries and businesses to build more resilient communities and reduce the impact of disasters. As insurers, it’s time to be involved in defining what we mean by resilience – and specifically what needs to be done to the national construction code, land use planning and legacy building stock to improve community resilience. We want to see a focus on financial safety, not only life safety, so that insurance remains accessible and affordable. That’s why IAG is working with industry peers and partners, including the ICA and the Master Builders Association.

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Providing capacity when it’s most needed Faced with a difficult D&O market, one underwriting agency has stepped up to ease the pressure

says. “Prices are getting really expensive and everyone is looking for cover, so all the submissions come pouring over, but they don’t really know much about these companies. So, we’ve taken on the responsibility of being the syndicate’s local filter to define what is worth participating on and what isn’t worth participating on in the current risk market they have.” For now, Agile is focused on excess layers for large unlisted companies and smaller listed firms, but the prospect of expanding into primary remains on the table. Agile’s

“We’ve taken on the responsibility of being the local filter to define what is worth participating on”

In just three years, Agile Underwriting Services’ financial lines team has expanded from offering only professional indemnity to also providing legal expenses and tax audit cover. Now the team has also added D&O to its remit, following its success in negotiating access to Lloyd’s capacity. “It’s well known that the local D&O market has had a lot of capacity pulled away from it, rates have gone through the roof, some insurers have withdrawn, and the average D&O insurance has increased over 200%,”


says Clive Davidson, Agile’s head of financial lines. “In order for us to provide value to the market as an agency, we need to provide capacity at a time when it’s most needed, as opposed to when everybody could do it. So, we found an opportunity to find some capacity with a Lloyd’s syndicate that is interested in being involved in the Australian market, but on a controlled and managed basis.” Essentially, Agile will be the syndicate’s local boots on the ground. “They get drowned in submissions from Australia,” Davidson

DUAL forays into the forestry sector

DUAL has moved into forestry insurance, bringing on 35-year industry veteran Gordon Steward as managing director of forestry. DUAL will focus primarily on small, medium and mediumlarge forestry companies in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, Uruguay and South East Asia, including producers of timber/paper/pulp, pension funds, exotic wood investment and real estate investment funds. DUAL Group CEO Richard Clapham described forestry insurance as a “niche but increasingly important product”.


D&O offering will steer clear of financial institutions and property companies, as well as automotive, aviation, and travel and leisure. Earlier this year, temporary changes to continuous disclosure laws in Australia were made permanent in an attempt to discourage opportunistic class actions; Davidson says this influenced Agile’s foray into D&O. “That’s where we’ve come in and said we’re going to provide capacity back in the market,” he says. “There has been a reluctance to engage when pricing has been volatile, litigation has been high, and the local insurers have been finding their new position in this D&O market. So, we’re in and looking to do a bit of business.”

Canopius unveils new underwriting agency

Canopius has relaunched Vave, its algorithmic underwriting platform, as an underwriting agency. Since its debut in 2019, Vave has quoted more than 1.2m risks, representing US$2.2bn in premium. “Vave’s vast potential was evident very early on, and as an [underwriting agency], it can access the capital required to really set it loose in terms of scale and sophistication,” said Marek Shafer, Canopius’ chief digital officer. “It is hyper-efficient for brokers and, with greatly reduced frictional costs, highly effective from a capacity perspective.”

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Eric Lowenstein

Spotlight on medical indemnity insurance

Chief executive TEGO INSURANCE

Years in the industry 17 Fast fact Outside of Tego, Lowenstein is actively involved in a number of community and industry organisations, including serving as a board member for the Wolper Hospital and the Underwriting Agencies Council

What trends are you currently seeing in medical indemnity insurance? It’s a hard market for indemnity insurance across the sector, and insurers have considerably reduced their appetite in several specialisations, including radiology, cosmetic surgery, in vitro fertilisation and aged care facilities. Insurer appetite is also limited for clinics providing COVID-19 testing and respiratory services. For medical practitioners, it is particularly tough for those in neurosurgery, cosmetic surgery and bariatric surgery. Increasing claim trends and healthcare inflationary costs are among the contributors. Tego has seen an upsurge in enquiries about COVID-19 exposures. There is a push to get surgery moving again after COVID-related halts in 2020, leading to questions about doctors’ contractual obligations when treating public patients in private hospitals. Some insurers have excluded COVID-19 exposures, while others are removing vicarious liability from medical malpractice policies, leaving a key risk uninsured and causing a potential E&O liability for placing brokers. Cover is being limited or excluded for abuse claims. The aged care royal commission has turned a blowtorch on that sector, prompting many underwriters to quit the market or reduce their exposures by imposing sub-limits. Healthcare is rapidly advancing technologically, with the advent of telehealth and wearable devices that monitor health. New research into vaccines and other treatments also creates additional risks.

Emergence to help SMEs fight cybercrime

Cyber insurance specialist Emergence Insurance has partnered with Western Sydney University (WSU) to help small businesses combat cybercrime. For 12 months, Emergence and three other cybersecurity businesses will work with WSU to establish a new Cybersecurity Aid Centre, which will provide cyber training and cyber incident response support for small businesses. Emergence will also implement a formal internship program, allowing WSU students to rotate through its incident response and claims management teams.

Do you see these trends continuing long-term? Yes – the hard market will not turn around for some time. There will be a slow return to capacity, as occurs in cyclical markets. However, there has traditionally been some under-pricing in this sector, so the hardening market has achieved a better balance. Continuous advances in research and technology are changing the complex risk landscape, including creating new cyber and privacy threats for which insureds need protection. In some cases, insurers are excluding privacy and cyber exposures entirely from med-mal policies. This may lead to further segmentation of the market. For example, traditional med-mal cover may evolve to exclude cyber risks, with insureds requiring specific cyber coverage.

Looking ahead, what are your priorities at Tego? Tego is experiencing growth due to our ability to be nimble and provide cover and solutions for the above market changes. Our portfolio is growing, as is our team and market share. As a specialist healthcare indemnity underwriter, we have the expertise to give brokers and clients confidence as they navigate this niche market. Tego was founded on a recognition that traditional indemnity and liability products were inadequate, as medical practitioners and healthcare entities required more tailored solutions. Traditional insurers have been slow to respond to those needs, and Tego’s focus is to continue to draw on our deep industry experience and provide superior solutions where others cannot.

Landmark Underwriting builds out D&O business

In a bid to enter the D&O market, Landmark Underwriting has named Alistair Sandilands as D&O liability head for Australasia and ASEAN. A threedecade insurance veteran, Sandilands will be building the company’s D&O book of business in the region from scratch – a task he has already done twice, first at XL and then at HDI Global. Landmark group chief executive Ross Lazaroo-Hood said Sandilands’ skills and industry partnerships will help him quickly gain momentum in developing the company’s D&O product.

CFC Underwriting launches new Lloyd’s syndicate

CFC Underwriting’s Syndicate 1988 has begun trading at Lloyd’s, making CFC one of the first independent underwriting agencies of scale to set up a Lloyd’s syndicate. CFC described the new syndicate as “futuristic,” noting that “it will not have a box at Lloyd’s and, through the application of technology, will be operated with a lower level of resources than traditional syndicates”. Syndicate 1988 will write around 20% of CFC’s established portfolio, generating more than $180m in gross premium.

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The rise of telehealth Alicia Marsiglia explains why the changing healthcare environment demands protection from an invisible threat: cyber liability THE CORONAVIRUS pandemic has encouraged many changes in the healthcare sector, far beyond management of the disease itself. The emergence of telehealth as an attractive, practical option in a socially distanced world could permanently alter the way we provide and receive medical services. But like many medical innovations, telehealth also opens up a lucrative opportunity for cybercriminals. Telehealth uses technology to digitally connect patients with their care providers, who can deliver advice, diagnoses and even some forms of treatment virtually. Practitioners can use these applications to create digitised notes, helping them meet standards for the upkeep of electronic health records. Telehealth has also spurred the development of ‘virtual rooming assistants’, which can admit patients into digital exam rooms and note medical histories, improving the efficiency of providers. As businesses take advantage of the benefits of telehealth, they may be unaware that they also face an increased risk of cyber liability. The digital transfer of information between patient and provider, followed by the online storage of healthcare data, can be a tempting draw for cybercriminals. Theft of healthcare records is arguably the most lucrative form of cybercrime; a healthcare data record can be valued at up to US$250 on the illegal market. By comparison, a payment card is valued at just US$5.40, according to Trustwave. This highly personal information can be harvested


and sold to forgers, human traffickers or those looking to exploit it for a ransom. There are a few crucial ways that healthcare providers can combat this threat. Businesses should check their networks for vulnerabilities and ensure that any home devices, in particular, are up to date with the latest firewalls. Any device that is using Windows 7 should be prioritised for

cies. Packaging cyber coverage with other types of insurance minimises the chance that a claim falls uncovered into the cracks between insurers. When comparing cyber coverage, healthcare providers and their brokers should keep in mind that endorsements and add-on coverages, while more cost-effective, are not typically designed to provide the full breadth of cyber protection. Look for an insurer that has expertise in both cyber and healthcare liability, and when discussing coverage, ensure that the services and operations planned over the policy period are clearly communicated to obtain suitable protection. As a result of COVID-19, insurers are looking to limit their exposure to similar largescale events, so it’s also important to review communicable disease exclusions to determine the types of claims and loss amounts a policy covers. The pandemic has revealed our capability to adapt, evolve and triumph under immense pressure, and the healthcare industry is a

“The digital transfer of information between patient and provider, followed by the online storage of healthcare data, can be a tempting draw for cybercriminals” an update, as the discontinued operating system is no longer offering security updates and is at greater risk of viruses and malware. In addition, one of the most effective tools to prevent cyber incidents is cybersecurity education. The rise in COVID-19-related phishing emails offering in-demand items, including N95 masks and ventilators, could be stymied by training employees on what to look for to avoid an attack. Mitigating the damage if a cyberattack occurs is also imperative. Cyber insurance coverage can include emergency response tools and training resources to reduce the impact of a breach on a provider’s bottom line, and it can be conveniently packaged with professional and general liability poli-

perfect example. Even when some businesses return to brick-and-mortar locations, virtual services will continue to be a source of revenue for healthcare providers and will remain a convenient choice for patients. The pervasiveness of telehealth will depend on the willingness of health insurers to reimburse for visits over a virtual platform and, ultimately, on providers’ commitment to protecting themselves and their patients by minimising cyber risks. Alicia Marsiglia is vice president and allied healthcare product head for Hiscox USA and a Hiscox partner. She has 14 years of professional liability experience, primarily in healthcare lines product management.

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A DECADE OF PRIDE NIBA chief executive Dallas Booth is retiring in late 2021 after 10 years with the peak body, but not before paying homage to the resourceful people who make up Australia’s intermediated insurance industry

ONE MIGHT think that spending a decade at the helm of the National Insurance Brokers Association would make it difficult to pick a favourite milestone, but outgoing chief executive Dallas Booth knows exactly what he’ll remember most from his time at NIBA. “We were absolutely blown away by the fact that in the royal commission into misconduct in financial services that was held in Australia during 2018, the insurance brokers were absolutely within scope,” Booth says. “The royal commission gathered a massive amount of information and a massive amount of submissions from the community more broadly. Nothing that we could see related to misconduct by insurance brokers. And that makes me massively proud to serve our members and to do the work that I do with a group of men and women who serve their clients and look after them and act in those clients’ best interests. I thought that was a massive triumph, and it was not a triumph for NIBA; it was a triumph for the insurance brokers of Australia.” Booth, who plans to step down from the chief executive role at the end of October, says he’s “learned something nearly every day” during his time at the helm of NIBA. “It’s just so amazing what brokers do,” he says. “They are innovative, they are entrepreneurial, and they are focused on finding solutions. If the first option doesn’t work, they go to the second option; if that doesn’t


work, they’ll look for something else. That’s the thing that I enjoy about this work – just working with insurance brokers. “Australia is a big country, and there’s quite a bit of travel involved in this role, but every time you go somewhere and you’re talking with people, you learn something, and you just get impressed about what they’re doing next to make their businesses

October, Booth will be working to get the new leader up to speed. He also says he’s “happy to help” NIBA and its board, especially as the organisation grapples with the reforms coming into force in October and navigates the review of remuneration arrangements next year. “I’m on the wrong side of 65,” Booth says of his decision to step back from the chief

“It’s just so amazing what brokers do. They are innovative, they are entrepreneurial, and they are focused on finding solutions. If the first option doesn’t work, they go to the second option; if that doesn’t work, they’ll look for something else” successful, but more importantly, to look after the needs of their clients. And that’s the thing that I’ll miss.”

Passing the baton He won’t be missing too much, though – Booth isn’t leaving NIBA entirely. In early July, the organisation named Association of Financial Advisers CEO Philip Kewin as Booth’s successor; between August and

executive role. “I’m just keen to spend a little bit more time with my wife and my two adult children and the grandchildren. We’re based in Sydney, and we’ve got a son and daughterin-law and three grandkids in Brisbane who we don’t see often enough. So I just wanted to slow down a little bit.” Kewin will have big shoes to fill – so what does Booth believe his successor should bear in mind as NIBA’s new leader?

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PROFILE Name: Dallas Booth Title: Chief executive Company: National Insurance Brokers Association Based in: Sydney Career highlights: In addition to 10 years with NIBA, Booth’s illustrious career also includes time spent at NSW’s Motor Accidents Authority, the Asbestos Injuries Compensation Fund and the Insurance Council of Australia

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“The primary role of NIBA is representation and advocacy on behalf of our members, primarily to government, Parliament and regulators,” he says. “The key requirement is to play a leadership role in relation to those functions of NIBA, and that’s a critically important part. “The second role is to work with the board and our industry leaders on continuing to promote and enhance professionalism in insurance broking in Australia.”

Regulatory burden On that point, Booth laments that the coming reforms are hugely distracting to brokers at a time when they’re also dealing with an exceedingly difficult insurance market. “The real challenge for NIBA has been the fact that for almost all of those 10 years, there has been a major reform activity for

say, ‘Stop imposing new compliance obligations on insurance brokers when we are not the problem.’” In Booth’s view, public policy should seek to uncover the actual problem; determine how severe it is; outline the options for fixing the problem, along with the costs and benefits of those options; and make sure the outcome of any reform will indeed leave the community better off. “If you want to find out whether we are the problem or not, just look at the AFCA complaint data – thousands of complaints against the insurance companies and 320 complaints against insurance brokers, most of which are resolved in favour of the broker,” he says. “This has been the struggle for 10 years – to constantly do battle against a one-size-fits-all regulatory and legislative approach.”

“I continue to talk about the need for people to have eyes wide open, to be prepared for change and to be open to innovation – but ultimately, through all of that, to maintain the confidence of your client” financial services in Australia,” he says. “In 2012–2014, there was the FOFA [Future of Financial Advice] reform, which was a massive reform exercise. We actually had FOFA version one, and then we had a change of federal government and we had FOFA round two, then we had a financial system inquiry, and then we had the royal commission. Now we’ve got legislation coming out of the royal commission. “Almost the whole time, there has been major reform activity happening, despite the fact that, overwhelmingly, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with what insurance brokers do. What we’ve had to do for the last 10 years is to fight and battle to


Meanwhile, Booth is convinced that the world of insurance won’t be the same in five years’ time. “I can’t give you a clear indication today as to what it’s going to look like,” he says. “But certainly in the work that I do, I continue to talk about the need for people to have eyes wide open, to be prepared for change and to be open to innovation – but ultimately, through all of that, to maintain the confidence of your client. “If you’re maintaining the confidence of your client as their trusted adviser, I think broking will remain very successful and a very important part of the financial services industry in Australia.”


450 Approximate number of NIBA member firms

15,000 Individual brokers represented by NIBA

50 Minimum continuing professional development points members are required to obtain every two years

12 Number of weeks in the NIBA mentoring program, which is offered twice a year in multiple cities

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Insurance Business spotlights 42 talented women who have risen to the upper echelons of Australia’s insurance industry – and are blazing a trail for others to follow



Feature article .............................................. 22 Methodology ................................................ 23 Elite Women in Insurance 2021 ................. 25 Profiles .......................................................... 26

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THE VIEW FROM THE TOP WOMEN ARE increasingly making their mark in the traditionally male-dominated insurance industry. For the third year in a row, Insurance Business is celebrating the women who are not just going above and beyond for their clients and organisations, but are championing diversity in every sense. They’re also giving back to the community and to the industry, innovating and driving change, fostering young talent, and striving for professional excellence. It’s no secret that insurance has a long way to go to reach full gender equality; recent government stats show that financial and insurance services has one of the highest gender pay gaps of any industry at 23.6%. And there has been much discussion over the years around the lack of women in

senior leadership roles in the industry. However, a glance through this year’s Elite Women in Insurance list shows how much the landscape has shifted. Not only are women holding – and excelling in – highranking roles, but they are also reaching out a hand to those lower down the ranks to ensure the industry continues to make strides in diversifying its leadership. As operations claims manager at FM Global, Andrea Garske is one of a small handful of women at the top of the complex claims sector, and she is using that platform to be an agent of change. “Andrea has made a point of providing job opportunities to female engineering graduates and distributing work within the team to ensure female adjusters are assigned complex

“‘Ambitious’ doesn’t have to be a dirty word for women. Being clear on what I wanted and working hard to achieve it, I have made executive level at the age of 37” Suzi Leung, Zurich Australia Insurance and high-challenge losses to support their career development,” a colleague says. “In 2020, Andrea hired a graduate female engineer as a trainee adjuster, which gave rise to a majority female team for the first time.” This year’s Elite Women know promoting diversity isn’t just ethical – it makes business sense, too. “To take our customer service to the next level as an industry and continue to build our reputation, we needed to adopt a strategic recruitment approach, targeting a more diverse group of people who were more representative of our customers and could therefore build stronger rapport and trust,”


56.5% C-suite executives

29.0% Board chairs

23.7% CEOs

5.9% Source: Swiss Re Institute


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says Donna Stewart, general manager of long-tail claims at Allianz Australia. To make progress toward this goal, Stewart established the industry’s first formal flexible work program, “attracting people who would never previously have considered insurance as a career by institutionalising work from home long before COVID made this a thing.” Her efforts led to significant increases in employee engagement, retention and productivity, as well as customer satisfaction. As the youngest appointed partner at Holman Webb, Lucy Rooney is intent on showing that the upper echelons of leadership are by no means a no-go area for young women – including those with children. “I am often vocal about my desire to start a family – and I am pleased to say that with

She is also an encouraging sign of how the industry is evolving. “‘Ambitious’ doesn’t have to be a dirty word for women,” Leung says. “Being clear on what I wanted and working hard to achieve it, I have made executive level at the age of 37. What I am most proud of, however, is having done so with two young kids and also being a person of colour/ ethnicity. Diversity is more than gender. I am proud to be a woman, but I am also proud to be the daughter of Vietnamese boat people and a first-generation Australian.” This year’s Elite Women have also been keen adopters of technology, helping to keep the industry at the forefront of change. Katrin Stoecker, COO of Steadfast Underwriting Agencies, successfully embedded a robotics process automation (RPA) program during lockdown, during which she “success-

“Continuous improvement is key, and never being complacent drives me to be the best that I can” Michelle Klobas, Gallagher Bassett

METHODOLOGY Starting in February, Insurance Business invited insurance professionals from across the country to nominate their most exceptional female leaders for the annual Elite Women in Insurance list. Nominees had to be working in a role that related to, interacted with or in some way impacted the general insurance industry and have demonstrated a clear passion for insurance. Nominators were asked to describe their nominee’s standout professional achievements over the past 12 months, along with their contributions to diversity and inclusion in the industry and how they’ve given back through volunteer roles and charity work. Recommendations from managers and senior industry professionals were also taken into account. The Insurance Business team reviewed all nominations, examining how each individual had made a meaningful contribution to the industry, to narrow down the list to the final 42 Elite Women in Insurance.

3rd the support offered by Holman Webb, it is absolutely possible to have a family and still be an integral part of the firm’s partnership,” Rooney says.

Future-focused This year’s Elite Women have provided unwavering leadership during the volatility of the COVID-19 pandemic. Suzi Leung, chief operations officer at Zurich Australia Insurance, led her team to achieve record results while keeping their physical and mental wellbeing front of mind. When their partner in India went into lockdown, she repatriated tasks onshore, speedily onboarding new local teams while also setting up the Indian teams to work remotely.

fully led agencies along the RPA journey and manoeuvred many obstacles, such as fear of the unknown and a fear of ‘robots taking over my job’”. Kirsty Owens, SA state manager and national portfolio manager of the Steadfast Client Trading Program (SCTP) at Berkley Insurance Australia, has been an advocate for creating new automated platforms to improve service to brokers. “Kirsty launched the first complete automation for general liability to quote and bind policies on the SCTP and is currently working on professional indemnity within the same platform,” a colleague says. “At Berkley Insurance Australia, she is also about to launch a new automated broker

year of Insurance Business’ Elite Women in Insurance list

21% of this year’s Elite Women hold roles in the C suite

48% of this year’s Elite Women are based outside of Sydney

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Board positions

C-suite positions

2010 (13%)

2010 (10%)

2019 (26%)

2019 (17%)

Source: Swiss Re Institute

“I have had two great mentors in my career and wouldn’t be the person I am today without them, as they taught me to share knowledge and empower people” Angela Stevens, GT Insurance platform where brokers can transact with us completely online.”

Committed to lifelong learning On the whole, this year’s Elite Women see learning and education not just as a way to further their own careers, but to advance the industry as a whole. Austcover CEO Maria Parry, a two-time Elite Women honouree, told IB after winning the coveted Australian Broker of the Year Award at the inaugural Insurance Business Australia Awards: “The insurance world is constantly changing, and we need to keep up with developments – so professional development is absolutely crucial.” 24

Pursuit of knowledge goes hand-in-hand with sharing it. Angela Stevens, national claims manager at GT Insurance, has benefited from inspirational mentorship and is now paying it forward. “I have had two great mentors in my career and wouldn’t be the person I am today without them, as they taught me to share knowledge and empower people,” she says. “I have received feedback from colleagues that when they talk to me, I always give them 100%, no matter how busy I may be. I am a great listener, non-judgmental, value diversity and know the importance of women leaders is to lift up other women to succeed.” Michelle Klobas, client services director at Gallagher Bassett, is a much soughtafter expert in her field. For her, great client service is about “developing strong relationships and being open and transparent”. “Having joint undertakings, clear deliverables, measurable successes and key achievements along the way are what build strong and longstanding relationships,” Klobas says. “Having the insight to understand our clients’ strategic objectives and knowing what success looks like for our clients are key components of customer service. Continuous improvement is key, and never being complacent drives me to be the best that I can.” When she was unable to interact with clients face-to-face because of COVID-19, Klobas seized the opportunity to innovate and improve client communications. “Taking the time to listen, to be clear in our communication and to drive best practices together makes a significant difference for our client partners,” she says. Each one of the inspirational female leaders on this year’s Elite Women in Insurance list is innovating, offering top-quality service to clients and pushing the industry as a whole to perform at its best. But perhaps their most important contribution is paving the way for the next generation of female leaders and carving out a future that finds strength in diversity.

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Aimee Williams Broking manager Austbrokers Coast to Coast

Audrey Bailey Relationship & development manager GT Insurance

Phone: 07 5586 9955 Email: Website:

Phone: 07 3106 7721 Email: Website:

Andrea Garske Operations claims manager FM Global

Drew Schnehage Managing director Innovation Group

Phone: 02 8273 1400 Website:

Phone: 04 9959 9829 Email: Website:

Angela Stevens National claims manager GT Insurance Phone: 02 9966 8820 Email: Website:

Julie Morgan Head of technical claims, Australia and New Zealand Zurich Australia Insurance Phone: 0401 105 415 Email: Website: Lucy Rooney Partner Holman Webb Lawyers Phone: 02 9390 8436 Website:

Gillian Davidson Partner Sparke Helmore Lawyers

Natasha Kuchta National manager – key accounts NTI

Phone: 02 9373 3535 Website:

Phone: 07 3292 9800 Email: Website:

Annmaree Bell Head of strategic and business insights Zurich General Insurance, Australia & New Zealand

Hilary Bates Chief operating officer – life and investments Zurich Financial Services Australia

Phone: 0402 309 124 Email: Website:

Phone: 0401 105 610 Email: Website:

Phone: 0401 105 548 Email: Website:

Caitlin Carson Victoria state practice leader – FINPRO Marsh

Katrin Stoecker COO Steadfast Underwriting Agencies

Michelle O’Dowd Head of PRS, Australia and New Zealand Chubb Insurance Australia

Catherine McNair Head of diversity and inclusion QBE

Kay Jackson Director Simplex Insurance Solutions

Paula Eggers Corporate commercial leader, Queensland Marsh

Deb Gibson Client director Aon

Kerri-Anne Varkoly Head of broking operations Howden Insurance Brokers Australia

Demetra Day Head of major accounts division, Australia and New Zealand Chubb

Prudence Chang National sales development manager National Credit Insurance Brokers

Kirsty Owens State manager, SA; national portfolio manager, SCTP Berkley Insurance Australia

Prue Willsford CEO ANZIIF

Dianne Phelan Group operations manager BJS Insurance Group

Lyle Steffensen Practices leader, Pacific Marsh Australia

Donna Stewart General manager, long-tail claims Allianz Australia Jan Whittle Director High Street Underwriting Agency Jo Fox Executive operations officer Chubb Insurance Australia Julie Mitchell Chief general manager, personal injury Allianz Australia Julijana Sumner Claims manager and practice leader, financial lines, Asia-Pacific AXA XL

Suzi Leung Chief operations officer Zurich Australia Insurance

Quanchai Burns General manager, enterprise optimisation Allianz Australia

Maria Parry CEO Austcover

Retha Van der Merwe Executive director Omnisure

Meg Long Group general manager McLardy McShane Group

Sarah Lyons CEO Gallagher Australia

Melanie Slack CEO, Australia and New Zealand Swiss Re Corporate Solutions

Simone Dossetor COO Munich Re Australia

Mellissa Naidoo Vice president and mutual board director MDA National

Susan Donaldson Head of claims, Australia Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance

Michelle Klobas Client services director Gallagher Bassett Services

Tiana Iuvale State manager, broker solutions, Queensland CGU Insurance

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Head of Technical Claims, Australia and New Zealand Zurich Australia Insurance


he head of technical claims at Zurich, Julie Morgan oversees a large portfolio of the most complex claims in Australia and New Zealand, including many highprofile securities claims and other class actions. She also regularly engages with senior stakeholders within Zurich internationally and in the general insurance market. Morgan is “known as a pragmatic consensus-builder amongst her peers, navigating the varying interests and approaches that can emerge in [complex] claims,” says Nina Mills, head of communications and marketing at Zurich. “She is recognised by all stakeholders as a leader in the market in this space, regularly asked by both plaintiff and defendant firms and litigation funders to join them on panels to discuss the issues peculiar to these claims.” Morgan’s recent achievements include being seconded into the head of financial lines role to support the claims team and management, as well as leading Zurich’s submissions to the Australian Law Reform Commission’s inquiry into class actions. As a single mother of two teenagers, Morgan strives to be a positive role model for women in leadership positions, champion flexible working for both men and women, and support those on her team with diverse needs. She says she’s been fortunate to work with inspiring leaders so far in her career, and she hopes to similarly inspire those she is privileged to lead in the future.


Holman Webb Lawyers


ucy Rooney became the youngest appointed partner at Holman Webb Lawyers at a time when both the legal and insurance industries were discovering new ways to work and connect with clients and colleagues due to COVID-19 restrictions. Undeterred by the challenges, Rooney has built a $1m practice during her first year as partner while strengthening her relationships within the insurance industry. “In addition, the training and mentorship I’ve been able to provide junior lawyers within both Holman Webb and client organisations has furthered my development as leader in this sector,” she says. “As the youngest appointed partner at Holman Webb, I feel an obligation to demonstrate to young insurance professionals that the path to senior leadership is indeed a genuine possibility.” Rooney also puts a high priority on fostering an inclusive culture at Holman Webb. She was actively involved in creating and implementing the firm’s parental leave policy to bolster its ability to attract and retain more women, and she pushed for the policy to apply to fixed profit share partners. When COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, Rooney advocated for the firm to continue to provide staff with flexible work options. “Whilst Holman Webb does have a fantastically inclusive culture,” she says, “I have considered inherent in my role as partner an obligation to be a driver of change in perceptions and norms, as well as to support juniors with partnership aspirations – in particular, ensuring they understand that they should not have to choose between partnership and starting a family.”


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National Claims Manager

Operations Claims Manager

GT Insurance

FM Global


s GT Insurance’s national claims manager, Angela Stevens oversees the company’s claims management in 10 branches across Australia. GT Insurance CEO Tony Dodd says Stevens’ leadership and values around fairness had a significant bearing on GT Insurance winning both NIBA Underwriting Agency of the Year and a Mansfield Award for Specialty in 2020. “Angela’s strong points are people and culture, along with customer focus,” Dodd says. “These are two core pillars of GT’s business plan. Angela has repeatedly shown the value of her leadership by continually identifying unique and innovative methods to form a positive atmosphere.” Stevens’ recent achievements include effectively leading GT Insurance’s claims function amid the changes brought by the Hayne royal commission. She has provided direction, managed change and implemented processes to ensure compliance with new regulatory obligations. She has also been critical in helping GT Insurance respond to COVID-19 and has recommended changes to the company’s flexible working arrangements postpandemic. Stevens is also a keen participant in GT Insurance’s inclusion and diversity focus group and a mentor who proactively involves herself in understanding the diversity of the team. “She encourages staff to be confident in their dealings and, importantly, creates a space where they feel confident in voicing their thoughts or questions,” Dodd says.


s FM Global’s operations claims manager, Andrea Garske heads up a team of loss adjusters and manages the claims functions of the business to ensure positive outcomes for clients. Garske has worked for FM Global for nearly 20 years and was appointed claims manager for Australia and New Zealand in 2016. Since taking over the leadership of the claims team, Garske has overhauled mentoring and training and has helped develop a recruitment strategy focused on inclusion. In a male-dominated industry where few of the most complex property claims are handled by adjusters under the age of 50, Garske has made a concerted effort to increase the diversity of her team by rewording job ads to attract a broader range of candidates and providing job opportunities to female engineering graduates. She also developed customised training for the handling of complex power generation claims, which has been adopted by FM Global claims teams around the world, and she was involved in creating a global training program for the handling of high-hazard mining losses. Garske’s efforts in recruiting, training and mentorship have resulted in a more diverse, stable and committed team with high average tenure and increased technical capabilities. Under Garske’s leadership, FM Global’s claims team won its third consecutive Mansfield Award in the Corporate Property and Casualty category in 2020.

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Zurich Australia Insurance

Austbrokers Coast to Coast

Chief Operations Officer


t the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Suzi Leung strived to ensure zero disruption to the business and customers from an underwriting operations perspective. When Zurich’s offshore team in India was affected by pandemic restrictions, Leung worked tirelessly to train local teams to handle the workload while setting up the team in India to work remotely. “All in all, it was a phenomenal experience,” she says. “Whilst incredibly stressful, it was quite rewarding when the business continued to perform, when customers were not impacted, all whilst being able to support our teams on- and offshore.” Leung’s efforts ultimately led to her promotion to COO at the end of 2020. She now leads business transformation and change, operational services, workplace service, and governance with the aim of delivering operational excellence and outstanding customer service for Zurich’s general insurance business across Australia and New Zealand. As a first-generation Australian, Leung says her background enables her to bring a different perspective and approach to the executive team, fellow Zurich employees and the wider industry. She works to foster diversity and inclusion at the company by supporting Zurich’s Women’s Innovation Network, which she previously chaired, and serving as an ambassador for PrideZ, another employee resource group that supports LGBTIQ+ individuals.


Commercial and Retail Broking Manager


s broking manager for Austbrokers Coast to Coast, Aimee Williams is charged with inspiring, influencing and leading a team of insurance professionals. Also responsible for building and maintaining insurer and underwriter relationships, she regularly deals with senior industry members. Over the past year, Williams successfully led the Austbrokers Coast to Coast team through the unique challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and a hardening insurance market. “This came down to her innovation to adapt the business and lead initiatives to ensure all our staff remained employed,” says Austbrokers Coast to Coast CEO Dale Hansen. “She has been relied upon by the company to keep the team engaged, selfmotivated and focused.” Williams also actively supports the brokerage’s continued push for greater gender diversity and equality by ensuring all staff feel welcomed and have an equal opportunity to contribute to the team. She also puts in considerable time and effort to train and mentor team members. “My career goal is to a be a leader and global influencer in the insurance industry,” says Williams, who has twice been a finalist for Young Gun of the Year at the Insurance Business Australia Awards and was highly commended for the award in 2018. “I will achieve this by continuing to build long-term relationships, being a leader and inspiring those around me every single day.”

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DREW SCHNEHAGE Managing Director

Innovation Group


rew Schnehage joined Innovation Group as commercial director in South Africa in 2017 and moved to Melbourne in 2019 to lead the group’s Australian operations as managing director. She has 32 years of fleet and insurance industry experience, including seven years as chief executive of her own underwriting agency in South Africa, where she specialised in high-net-worth products for the broker market. Schnehage “has steered Innovation Group through large-scale change from both a business and staffing perspective and is focused on setting the business up for future success,” says Alicia Ameduri, head of human resources at Innovation Group Australia. During her time as MD, Schnehage has elevated qualified line managers, fostered a collaborative culture, and encouraged coaching and cross-skilling. She has also taken the lead in driving compliance and industry knowledge. Schnehage is a passionate champion of diversity and a strong advocate of other female leaders. Under her guidance, Innovation Group has achieved a 50-50 gender balance overall, and Schnehage’s executive team is 60% female.

Congratulations, Prudence Chang.

Insurance Business’ Elite Woman 2021. Earn more! Connect with NCI to find out how we can support and grow your business. Call us on 1800 882 820 or visit

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Chief Operating Officer – Life and Investments Zurich Financial Services Australia


fter nearly five years at Zurich, initially as chief claims officer and then as chief claims and operations officer for general insurance, Hilary Bates recently became COO for life and investments, responsible for underwriting, claims, customer service, operations, transformation and IT across the company. She is also in charge of the OnePath integration program following Zurich’s acquisition of OnePath Life from ANZ. And during the height of the COVID-19 crisis, Bates took on the role of crisis controller, overseeing the transition of around 2,000 staff to a remote work model. An advocate of diversity and inclusion within the workplace, Bates serves as a coach, mentor and sponsor for several of her female colleagues at Zurich and supports employee resource groups such as PrideZ and the Women’s Innovation Network. “I am passionate about diversity and inclusion – not just gender, but the breadth of all diversity and how that makes us more representative of our customer base and stronger as a company and industry,” she says. Moving forward, Bates hopes to progress further as an executive and in transformation roles by expanding her expertise and taking on new experiences, with the ultimate ambition of becoming a CEO. She says it’s “very humbling” to be recognised among IB’s Elite Women in Insurance; “however, I’m conscious this award is not just about me, but the teams I work with who bring to life what Zurich does in our industry.”


Sparke Helmore Lawyers


illian Davidson has been with Sparke Helmore Lawyers for more than two decades, specialising in general commercial insurance with deep expertise in liability claims, including property and personal injury claims. Davidson currently leads the firm’s 50-person national liability team. She also advises Australian and international insurers and corporates on the management of litigated and unlitigated largescale, multi-party claims, as well as policy wordings, coverage disputes, and contribution and recovery opportunities from third parties. “I like to work collaboratively with my clients to ensure that we develop the most effective commercial resolutions,” she says. “I lead strong teams of lawyers who strive for excellence and provide the highest standards of professionalism, integrity and advice.” Davidson is a board member of Global Insurance Law Connect, a global network of independent insurance law firms, and chair of the Asia-Pacific regional group. She also served as Sparke Helmore’s national leader for the recent aged care royal commission and has played a key role in helping clients prepare for other royal commissions. A champion of diversity and inclusion within the legal profession, Davidson is the inaugural chair of Sparke Helmore’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee and founder of the firm’s Six Degrees Network, which supports female staff through networking, leadership, mentoring and collaboration. Her leadership in D&I recently earned her the highly commended recognition in the Diversity & Inclusion category in the 2021 Chambers Asia Pacific Awards.


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NATASHA KUCHTA National Manager – Key Accounts NTI


highly regarded and well-respected industry leader, Natasha Kuchta has two decades of insurance experience that includes stints at CGU, QBE and Zurich. In her current role at NTI, Kuchta is responsible for everything from strategic portfolio management and business development to maintaining relationships with key internal and external stakeholders. Over the past year, Kuchta went above and beyond for NTI despite the challenges of COVID-19, designing and implementing strategic initiatives that resulted in significant growth in her area of the business. Throughout her career, she has led the complex integration of a multimillion-dollar portfolio, managed and negotiated the inclusion of an owned product within a 100% proprietary product suite, and tendered and secured the renewal of a multimillion-dollar at-risk portfolio and participation on a placement facility. Since Kuchta has been working at NTI, a colleague says, “we’ve been awarded IA Agency of the Year two years running; it’s no coincidence.” Alongside her core responsibilities, Kuchta has also led a national partner education project and, in a first for NTI, delivered a national training session to one of Australia’s largest broking businesses. She also supports fellow women in the industry through mentorship and advocacy. “For most of her career, she’s been the only female in the team,” her colleague says. “At NTI, we are incredibly fortunate and proud of Tash’s position in the commercial leadership team and how she’s pioneering the way for those who work with and around her.”

AUDREY BAILEY Relationship & Development Manager GT Insurance


t GT Insurance, Audrey Bailey is responsible for developing and leading marketing strategy to deliver profitable growth and underwriting services. A 20-year insurance veteran, Bailey has been a positive influence on the GT Insurance team since she joined the company in 2018. Last year, she initiated a national working group to examine how GT Insurance could take action to promote greater equality. Bailey is also involved in GT Insurance’s interview panels for senior positions and in identifying opportunities for more women in leadership roles. She is currently spearheading the company’s inclusion and diversity framework, which will be launched later this year. Bailey also provides leadership and mentoring to the sales team, looking to enhance the way GT Insurance manages key relationships by using innovative approaches within a customercentric strategy. Her efforts resulted in nation-leading sales results in 2020, and she’s currently leading again in 2021. Outside of GT Insurance, Bailey is part of the working group for training and education for Healthy Heads in Trucks & Sheds, a non-profit that promotes mental health in the transport and logistics industry. She is also a committee member for Women in Insurance, a mentor for the 2021 NIBA Mentoring Program and a registered volunteer at Qendo, which supports women with endometriosis, PCOS and infertility.

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ELITE WOMEN IN INSURANCE 2021 ANNMAREE BELL Head of Strategic and Business Insights

Zurich General Insurance, Australia & New Zealand


n her current role as head of strategic and business insights for Zurich General Insurance, Annmaree Bell works with the CEO to develop the strategy for the business, build collaborative relationships, develop action plans, execute activities to achieve goals and share best practices across the company. Bell and her insights team recently rolled out a plan to make insight and data available to the wider Zurich team. Bell also helped the company manage the transition to remote work during COVID-19 through initiatives designed to manage the needs of the business, employees and customers. Bell contributes to diversity and inclusion at Zurich by mentoring other women in their careers and by being an active member of the steering committee working group for Zurich’s Reconciliation Action Plan. She also spearheaded the Z-Star program, which allows potential leaders from all backgrounds, ages and genders to learn from the CEO and the executive team. Outside of Zurich, Bell is an active member of the arts community and supporter of non-profits such as Queer Screen, the Mardi Gras Film Festival and the Sydney Film Festival. Looking to the future, Bell says she hopes to continue focusing on strategy and executive leadership. “I see this as an opportunity to mould the next generation of thinkers and doers, and I look forward to continuing mentoring both inside and outside of the insurance industry.”



Angela Stevens GT Insurance

Jules Sperring Allied World

Anita Lane Solution Underwriting Agency

Karen Hardy Acme Insurance Brokers

Barbara Stenning Berkley Insurance Australia

Kay Jackson Simplex Insurance Solutions

Beth Uehling icare

Kelly Butler Marsh

Bonni Gordon Global Risks

Kerrie Challenor NTI

Carmel Donnelly SIRA

Lara Morgan allinsure

Carole Tokody Crisis Cover

Lisa Carter Clear Insurance

Charis Martin-Ross Allianz Australia

Lyle Steffensen Marsh

Hilary Bates Zurich

Lynette Walsh Aon Commercial Risk Solutions

Sheena Jack HCF

Jenny O’Neill Hollard Insurance

Mandy Cooper CPR Insurance Services

Vanessa Maher Liberty Specialty Markets

Meena Wahi Cyber Data-Risk Managers Melanie Slack Swiss Re Corporate Solutions Pegah Vaghaye CGU Insurance Prue Willsford ANZIIF Rachel David Private Healthcare Australia Rachel Pollack QBE Samantha Hollman Steadfast

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Doubling down on D&I As the insurance industry wakes up to the need to make real progress on diversity and inclusion, Insurance Business examines how eight companies are tackling this challenge FOR MANY YEARS, insurance workplaces have failed to reflect the reality of the world outside them. Insurance professionals would step onto the street at midday to be surrounded by a rich diversity of individuals and select lunch from any number of international cuisines, only to return to an office that was largely white, mono-cultural and male. But this is slowly changing. Take gender diversity, where things are starting to shift

globally. According to Swiss Re, the number of women at the C-suite level in insurance is up from 10% in 2010 to 17% in 2019. Leading Australian insurers are increasingly placing diversity – in all its forms – front and centre of their business strategies. Many are keen participants in the annual Dive In Festival, an invaluable industry forum for building a more diverse and inclusive future. Several organisations are also launching Reconciliation Action

Plans to support the national reconciliation movement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It’s no wonder insurance is getting serious about D&I. Research suggests that having a strong D&I program isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s also good for business. In its latest study of more than 1,000 large companies, McKinsey found that those with executive teams in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity were 36% more likely to have above-average financial returns, while those in the top quartile for gender diversity were 30% more likely to have above-average returns. As for cultural diversity, it simply makes sense in a country where, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, nearly 49% of Australians were born overseas, over 300 languages are spoken at home and more than 300 ancestries are identified with. As a country, Australia is all the richer for this multitude of outlooks, identities, religions, ethnicities, cultures, backgrounds and experiences. And as an industry, insurance is increasingly tapping into this diversity and all the benefits it brings.

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Not a boys’ club anymore AT BROOKLYN UNDERWRITING, increasing the diversity of the team has been a major focal point as the organisation has grown and expanded its operations over the past few years. “We are so proud of the widely diverse and inclusive team we have put together,” says Brooklyn marketing and business support executive Elizabeth Pace. “Speaking namely to the topic of gender balance, over 65% of our team are women. This group is made up of wide-ranging cultural backgrounds, as well as working mothers, carers, pregnant women and some on maternity leave.” Brooklyn is part of AXA XL, and Pace says the increase in the ratio of female to male

employees was heavily influenced by polices the insurer has implemented regarding interview processes. For every available role, the company must interview an equal number

of women and men. “It’s as simple as that – a genuine approach to a fair and balanced recruitment process for everybody,” Pace says. “We believe organisations that go out of their way to attract and leverage the diversity of the talent market are the ones that will ultimately win the war for talent and be more successful in achieving business goals. Diverse perspectives lead to better performance, so it must be a consideration in all of our hiring decisions. “We must tap into the full talent pool, both external and internal, if we’re going to attract and retain the best and the brightest.

“Driving authentic change in our industry is an ongoing effort. We can’t simply pledge on social media once a year, claiming we support diversity and inclusion; it’s time to walk the talk” Elizabeth Pace, Brooklyn Underwriting To support this goal, we expect that our leaders will always consider a highly qualified, diverse candidate slate prior to making a hiring decision.” Pace says Brooklyn believes the Australian insurance sector is at a crossroads and can no longer afford to keep doing things the way they’ve always been done. “If we’re not only going to survive into the future but thrive, we have to radically rethink our approach to talent acquisition and retention,” she says. “This requires being futurefocused about the skills and experience we need moving forward. The bottom line is that we are no longer just competing with other insurance companies for the best candidate; we’re competing across all industries, so we need to transform the way we attract potential employees. “Driving authentic change in our industry is an ongoing effort. We can’t simply pledge on social media once a year, claiming we support diversity and inclusion; it’s time to walk the talk.”


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Keeping company culture alive through inclusion engagement and feedback tool with specific questions for D&I and CHU’s company culture • measuring cultural diversity and encouraging team members to share cultural insights through “Getting to Know CHU” articles on the intranet • rolling out a holistic health and wellbeing program with a dedicated mental health element • instituting 100% flexibility in working, starting in March 2020 CHU BELIEVES that a diverse and inclusive world is better for its team, its customers and its community – and that it also makes good business sense, says CEO Kimberley Jonsson. “The events of 2020 around the world have certainly highlighted this,” she says. “Political unrest has arisen from groups of

“An inclusive workplace enables us to provide a superior customer experience, validated by our NPS; generate greater levels of innovation; and achieve higher levels of productivity,” Jonsson says. “The insurance industry is certainly moving in the right direction in terms of diversity, but we need

“The insurance industry is certainly moving in the right direction in terms of diversity, but we need to make sure we see it right through to the inclusion part” Kimberley Jonsson, CHU people feeling excluded. Creating a world of inclusion can only serve to bring people together, with better outcomes for all.” Jonsson points to studies showing that diverse workplaces are ahead in terms of employee engagement, innovation, customer satisfaction and financial performance. CHU has made diversity and inclusion one of the three pillars in its 2020–25 business strategy.


to make sure we see it right through to the inclusion part.” In 2020, CHU launched a flexible working model and a series of D&I initiatives for its team, community and customers that were heavily focused on inclusion. For the team, these included: • implementing Peakon, an employee

• including cultural and religious events, plus leave for pet caretaking, domestic and family violence as part of the company’s flexible leave benefit For intermediaries and direct customers, initiatives included: • increasing D&I awareness and engagement through forums, videos and articles • launching a Family & Domestic Violence Support Policy for vulnerable customers • numerous CEO industry presentations on D&I CHU has also taken a range of steps for the wider community, including: • creating educational videos in multiple languages, including Arabic, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Tagalog and Hindi • producing further multilingual content and website enhancements • creating D&I information videos for forums “People need to feel respected, connected and to feel included in an organisation – all of which helps keep the company culture alive,” Jonsson says.

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Getting everyone on board IN ITS D&I efforts, Steadfast Insurance Group has been true to its name. Last July, the organisation set up a Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which marked the latest step in its steady and resolute progress toward a more representative workplace. For the past five years, Steadfast has participated in the global Dive In Festival, and within the organisation, a number of D&I initiatives were quietly bubbling away. However, what was missing was wider participation and greater visibility of these efforts. The committee – made up of people from all levels and across all business units within Steadfast – represents the next step in formalising the group’s commitment to D&I. “We do have a diverse workforce in terms of country of origin, gender, geography and sexual orientation,” says Peter Roberts, Steadfast’s executive general manager for business solutions and chair of the D&I Committee. “But the committee is about saying, ‘Where are we at? Can we do better? And let’s give it a more centralised focus’.” Perhaps the biggest challenge for the new committee was where to direct its energy, so employees were given the chance to weigh in on Steadfast’s initiatives to date and where they thought further efforts should be concentrated. An employee survey identified three areas of focus. • Gender: increasing the representation and visibility of women in leadership roles • LGBTIQ+: increasing the visibility and number of LGBTIQ+ role models and raising awareness of key barriers and issues faced • Disability: promoting greater understanding of barriers faced by employees with disabilities “We needed to do a deeper dive into any issues identified, so we ran focus groups,” Roberts says. “Out of those, we formed a









“The [D&I] committee is about saying, ‘Where are we at? Can we do better? And let’s give it a more centralised focus’”


Peter Roberts, Steadfast Insurance Group strategy which cascades from our vision down to the key focus areas, right down to tangible actions. We are setting a baseline of metrics to see, next time we survey, whether our metrics are improving.” The focus groups offered clear insights into what employees wanted D&I to look like. “For example, the feedback from a women-only session was, ‘We don’t want gender targets, as we don’t want it to be a token thing. What we’d like is designated mentoring programs’,” Roberts says. “So now we are implementing one.” Other points raised in the focus groups have informed training (including a session outlining how to take an inclusive approach

to running meetings), as well as areas like succession planning and unconscious bias. The aim is for D&I to be embedded in the business, rather than simply being a box-ticking exercise. Steadfast also has an Indigenous engagement ambassador, David Liddiard, who has spent the past 30 years working to close the education, health and wellbeing, and employment gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. And last year, Steadfast launched its first Reconciliation Action Plan, forming a RAP Committee to explore ways to establish long-term relationships with First Nations peoples and contribute to reconciliation.

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Breaking down socioeconomic barriers WITH AN industry-leading, gender-equal, flexible paid parental leave scheme and a third consecutive Gold Employer Award in the Australian Workplace Equality Index, QBE Australia has solidified its status as a driver of diversity and inclusion within the insurance industry. While the industry’s focus on gender equality and other well-known elements of diversity is critical, Ming Long, non-executive director of QBE’s Australia Pacific board, says class is an important factor that hasn’t yet been focused on but should be. “When you think about who is in the lowest classes, you can think of it from a socioeconomic perspective – for example, vulnerable people with lower education or poorer backgrounds,” Long says. “Not all, but some of these people fit within this class category, so if we can get more of these people in our industry, the ripple effects could be significant. “It’s important to not just look after our vulnerable customers, but to have them be fundamental in our approaches. What this means is that instead of people without these experiences crafting policies and procedures they think work for vulnerable people, we instead have vulnerable people, as employees, creating solutions that actually work because they’re built on lived experience and empathy.” Long says the responsibility for this lies with leaders, who must make sure their biases don’t become hurdles. “Leaders are the ones who can, and should, be refining policies and demon-


strating inclusive behaviours and actions so there aren’t hurdles to vulnerable people entering the industry,” she says. “We also need to minimise hurdles to enter leadership positions, because what happens when we have a one-dimensional view of leadership is that it excludes everyone else who is even

slightly different. “If you don’t get different perspectives and lived experiences in leadership, then you’re crafting a post-COVID world that only suits the same people it used to suit. It’s these lived experiences that could enrich the solutions we come up with post-COVID, and when we embrace these, our industry will be more successful as a result.” So how can the industry address any voids in diversity? “Businesses should be cultivating and engaging teams with different backgrounds and experiences – they’re a wealth of knowledge from different walks of life,” Long says. “By not only giving them a voice, but amplifying it, we could help create more valuable, practical customer solutions. The business case for inclusivity is only getting stronger, and I believe our industry is ready to take on its next challenge.”

“If you don’t get different perspectives and lived experiences in leadership, then you’re crafting a post-COVID world that only suits the same people it used to suit” Ming Long, QBE Australia Pacific

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We put our people at the heart of what we do. As one of the first organisations in Australia to be certified as a Family-Friendly Workplace, we're there for our people before and after big (or little) life changes. Catherine McNair

Emma Walsh

Paul Cummins

Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing, QBE

CEO Parents At Work

Head of Business Services, QBE

QBE’s Share the Care initiative sends a strong message to all parents that your family is a priority, and it’s your family’s needs that drive how you choose to take parental leave. The success of this policy is not only in the feedback we receive, it’s the 300% uplift in men accessing this policy in the first 12 months and men now representing 33% of carers at QBE.

Not only is access to gender equal flexible paid parental leave an advantage for organisations in the market, it’s a game changer for gender equality and engagement of men who have previously felt ineligible or not permitted to use such policies. Employers have the opportunity to narrow the gender pay gap, boost workplace productivity and champion Australian parents in achieving both their family and work goals.

As a first time Dad, I’m proud and lucky to have QBE’s support in balancing work and home, by using the Share the Care policy in a way that works for me and my family. In addition to spending valuable time with my daughter, and supporting my wife in returning to work, I’ve also reflected, learned and developed skills which are helping me thrive professionally.


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Great strides in gender equality FOR ZURICH Australia & New Zealand, diversity and inclusiveness are not separate from day-to-day operations, but rather a key component in how the company builds pride, confidence and resilience within its teams. “Diversity also means embracing the different perspectives our people bring and capitalising on the value of these different views and opinions,” says Tim Plant, Zurich’s general insurance CEO for Australia and New Zealand. To pursue and cement its D&I values and goals, Zurich looks both within its own ranks and externally to find strength in partnerships. Gender equality, with a focus on pay, has been one area of success. Biannual pay equivalency analysis has allowed the organisation to identify – and act on – any discriminatory gender-based pay practices. “We have achieved some great outcomes to ensure gender equality,” Plant says. “These include the success of our female sponsorship program, which creates a fantastic leadership


pipeline within our business; the launch of our new Family Care Policy; and our ongoing work in this space being recognised by the Economic Dividends for Gender Equality [EDGE], elevating us to MOVE status in June. I’m proud of what we have been able to achieve, and I look forward to continuing our active support of gender equality initiatives.” Zurich’s female sponsorship program, launched last year, aims to develop, connect and profile future female leaders. Each participant is matched with a senior leader within the organisation who can advocate for them and connect them with networks and potential career-advancing opportunities. Participants also benefit from ongoing individual and group learning interventions. The program is already reaping rewards. Of the 2020 cohort of nine women, five have been promoted or moved into a broader role within a 12-month period. Several countries within the global organisation are now looking to adopt the program.

“Some changes that the pandemic made necessary create an opportunity to reimagine how work gets done, resetting norms and building diversity and inclusion into the new reality of work” Tim Plant, Zurich Australia & New Zealand Gender equality is just one of three core pillars of Zurich’s D&I strategy. The second is flexwork, which encompasses everything from the physical workplace to ensuring policies and process support remote working. “Some changes that the pandemic made necessary – in particular, remote work – create an opportunity to reimagine how work gets done, resetting norms and building diversity and inclusion into the new reality of work,” Plant says. The third core pillar of Zurich’s D&I strategy is an inclusive culture, which extends to policy review and design, reviewing processes for bias, providing guidelines for employees and managers, and professional development opportunities. Under this pillar, Zurich Australia replaced its old parental leave policy with a new Family Care Policy that honours the reality that ‘family’ means different things to different people. Now every employee – regardless of gender, gender identity or sexual orientation – can take paid leave as they welcome new family members or tackle family care issues. A key component of the new policy is the introduction of superannuation contributions on unpaid leave for primary caregiving parents.

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Hello Yellow Mobile plant and equipment are welcome at Zurich. Customers can simplify their insurance by including plant and equipment along with all other vehicles under the one world-class, motor policy.

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A safe space for employees to be themselves COVID-19 HAS forced dramatic change for the team at Innovation Group (IG). “It has fast-tracked strategic initiatives to support our employees and clients and taught lessons around the true agility and trust we can embed in our workforce,” says Alicia Ameduri, IG’s head of people experience. “We will not be alone in this regard. The experience instilled over the past year has created a depth of connection in our business. “As we moved to a virtual world, we have never felt more united. Bit by bit, we have


overcome traditional attitudes to work environments and embraced our new normal.” While IG has made many changes to adapt to this new world, there has been none more powerful for the business than its focus on inclusivity, Ameduri says. At IG, inclusivity has meant creating a safe space for employees to be themselves at work. “We believe it is our differences that bring us together and that authenticity is the best tool to nurture the post-COVID workforce,” Ameduri says.

“We believe it is our differences that bring us together and that authenticity is the best tool to nurture the postCOVID workforce” Alicia Ameduri, Innovation Group To celebrate the uniqueness of its employees, IG established a social hub called Innovation People, which allows employees to celebrate events, hobbies and initiatives that resonate. “Cultural days and fun activities such as cooking classes with family allowed us to learn more about each other,” Ameduri says. The organisation’s employee experience platform, IGConnect, provided the team access to continuously updated information and tools to support physical health, mental health and healthy eating. “As our network has evolved, so has our hub, focusing on differences in interests, such as IG Eats, IGrow,” Ameduri says. “Creation of the IG Kids Club allowed us to bring our IG kids into the team as honorary members. Our IG kids love our all-hands meetings to say hello and join in the excitement when we announce competition winners.” IG has also launched an initiative to support flexible working. “We trust our employees to find the balance to work where, when and how they feel best fits for them,” Ameduri says. “We established Work My Way Flex, initially focused on location of work but progressively increasing to time of work, span of hours and choice of location. We want our employees to work where they work best, as we feel this best supports inclusivity. “We look forward to continuing our journey in this new normal and our path to an inclusive workforce that our clients and employees can feel proud of.”

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Innovation through diversity NTI HAS a long-held affinity with diversity in the traditional sense: gender, age, experience and culture, says chief people and operations officer Kerrie Challenor. However, the transport and logistics specialist insurer is seeking new ways to bring diversity to the table, recognising that it’s diversity of thought that’s proven most valuable to NTI’s corporate culture and for sparking innovation. “Put simply, the more diverse our thought pool is on an initiative, the greater the output,” Challenor says. “Diversity is at the core of every project team at NTI, be it experience or area of expertise. Challenging ideas

independent psychometric assessment to minimise bias.” Those efforts have resulted in 60% of employees being under female executive leadership, accounting for two of the company’s biggest technical and specialist portfolios. However, the support goes beyond the executive level – NTI is equally focused on supporting diversity in other ways, such as recognising what caretaker roles look like in today’s society. “Our priority is happy, healthy people who feel valued at work and supported at home – however that may look,” O’Brien says. “We

“The more diverse our thought pool is on an initiative, the greater the output. Diversity is at the core of every project team at NTI” Kerrie Challenor, NTI

do this through a range of leave entitlements and lifestyle benefits. This includes NTI’s generous parental leave scheme and other leave options for primary carers and a subsequent offering for secondary. “The support doesn’t just stop when parental leave ends,” she adds. “While traditionally in insurance you would see a higher turnover post-parental leave, our program, coupled with flexible working arrangements, sees a 100% return-to-work rate following parental leave.” COVID-19 presented NTI with the opportunity to adopt an even more generous flexible work arrangement, Challenor adds. “Working through COVID restrictions reinforced our corporate values – that we trust each other to imagine, exceed and thrive,” she says. “We’ve since expanded our flexible working arrangement by giving people the choice to work remotely for 50% of their work fortnight. The offering has been well received across the board, but it’s particularly helpful for those with family commitments or other responsibilities.” While NTI has done much work on diversity thus far, the workplace is ever-changing – and if there’s one thing the company is comfortable with, it’s change, Challenor says. “I’m excited to think about the future diversity initiatives we are developing and their positive impact to our people,” she says.

or processes leads to stronger outcomes.” With this in mind, NTI is doing exciting work with graduates to develop new talent, says Sue O’Brien, NTI’s head of people and capability. “Recently we’ve undertaken an experimental approach of what it means to ‘grow’ an underwriter,” she says. “We encourage our graduates to push the boundaries and challenge our status quo.” Historically, discussion around diversity in insurance has largely been gender-focused. Because gender balance is also a key issue in the transport and logistics industry, NTI does due diligence when it comes to gender equity. “We review all roles for equity annually,” O’Brien says. “We aim for a balanced candidate selection pool at recruitment and use


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Your local marine experts. Australia’s leading marine insurance specialist. With the largest team of experts in marine insurance claims, underwriting and sales in Australia, we’re responsive whenever you need us. The marine industries never stop, and neither do we.

To get to know your local experts, visit Insurance products are provided by National Transport Insurance, a joint venture of the insurers Insurance Australia Limited trading as CGU Insurance ABN 11 000 016 722 AFSL 227681 and AAI Limited trading as Vero Insurance ABN 48 005 297 807 AFSL 230859 each holding a 50% share. National Transport Insurance is administered on behalf of the insurers by its manager NTI Limited ABN 84 000 746 109 AFSL 237246.

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Driving the diversity message home AT AIG, diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) is a business imperative. The organisation’s mission is to create an environment where people of all cultures, backgrounds and perspectives are valued and to ensure the company attracts, inspires, develops and retains diverse talent. AIG recognises that the diversity of its workforce is one of its greatest assets, linked to benefits such as increased employee and customer retention and engagement, business performance, innovation, and profitability. A key component of AIG’s DE&I agenda is its network of 130-plus employee resource groups (ERGs) across 35 countries, which are designed to bring colleagues together through shared interests across different dimensions of diversity. In 2014, AIG launched the Women & Allies ERG in Australia with the objective of increasing the number of women in leadership positions. Over time, the ERG has adapted to meet the changing needs of employees and has been rebranded as The Equality Network, with a mission to unite employees with a common understanding of the importance of a gender-equal and equal-opportunity organisation. “The Equality Network is at the heart of our employee engagement strategy and continues to ensure that AIG colleagues are aware of the benefits of fostering a culture that celebrates diversity, equity and inclusion,” says Sharon-Louise Reid, head of HR for AIG Australia. In Australia, The Equality Network has delivered numerous initiatives for employees and the industry alike, with the goal of creating real change around diversity in insurance. Notable outcomes include sponsoring several United Nations Women campaigns,


“The Equality Network continues to ensure that AIG colleagues are aware of the benefits of fostering a culture that celebrates diversity, equity and inclusion” Sharon-Louise Reid, AIG Australia hosting health and wellbeing sessions in partnership with the All Blacks and female Black Ferns Sevens teams, participating in Pride marches, and supporting industry events such as Women in Insurance and the global Dive In Festival. Now in its fifth year of participating in Dive In, AIG continues to facilitate important DE&I conversations for the insurance industry. Past events have focused on attracting young professionals to the industry, measuring the impact of diversity and establishing what a culturally competent workplace looks like. Recognising that gender inclusion works

both ways, AIG has also recently launched gender-inclusive parental leave, giving both male and female employees equal entitlements. This, combined with the introduction of a Women Leaders Development Program and updated language in all internal HR and corporate policies, has led to a 16% improvement in AIG Australia’s employee engagement score over the past 18 months, as well as a finalist nomination for the ANZIIF Excellence in Workplace Diversity & Inclusion Award. “These accomplishments demonstrate the importance of creating a sense of belonging and being able to bring our whole selves to the workplace,” Reid says.

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Our diversity is one of our greatest assets At AIG, we continue to deliver programs that strive for real change around diversity in insurance. To be a diverse leader in Australia and meet the challenges of a complex and global marketplace, it starts with our people. By harnessing and celebrating our team’s individual cultures, education, skills, life experiences and ultimately, unique ways of thinking, we shape our business for greater success in the future. American International Group, Inc. (AIG) is a leading global insurance organisation. AIG member companies provide a wide range of property casualty insurance, life insurance, retirement solutions, and other financial services to customers in approximately 80 countries and jurisdictions. These diverse offerings include products and services that help businesses and individuals protect their assets, manage risks and provide for retirement security. AIG common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Additional information about AIG can be found at | YouTube: | Twitter: @AIGinsurance | LinkedIn: These references with additional information about AIG have been provided as a convenience, and the information contained on such websites is not incorporated by reference in this information. Insurance products are issued in Australia by AIG Australia Limited ABN 93 004 727 753 AFSL No 381686. © AIG – All rights reserved.

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"The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the industry, are the ones who do." Great opportunities don’t just happen by sheer luck. New jobs, great business ideas and the right people – you have to develop habits to attract them to the right place, at the right time.


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GUNS 2021 Insurance Business salutes 41 young men and women who are delivering stellar results, leading by example, and going above and beyond for clients and colleagues alike



Feature article .............................................. 52 Methodology ................................................ 52 Young Guns 2021 ......................................... 55 Profiles .......................................................... 56

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THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT IF THE 2021 Insurance Business Young Guns are anything to go by, the insurance sector is in great hands. These 41 rising superstars – all age 35 and younger – were nominated by their colleagues, managers and mentors for demonstrating excellence in the field. The many detailed submissions IB received made it clear that these young practitioners are not simply consummate professionals with impeccable technical expertise. They go above and beyond in every sense. In an increasingly complex and competitive sector, they have managed to lead, innovate, mentor their colleagues, build relationships, develop

Another common denominator for these stellar performers is what one nomination described as “bringing an inquiring mind to every claim” and leaving no stone unturned in finding a solution. And when the market or circumstances get tough, the Young Guns’ resolve gets tougher. Take, for example, Ben JohnstonBradford, underwriter/responsible manager at Specialist Underwriting Agencies (SUA). “In a market that is currently seeing a contraction in capacity for statutory liability, Ben is working overtime to fill the void left by other insurers,” read his nomination.

Common to all of our winners is a dedication to education and professional development – not just their own, but also that of their colleagues professionally, place their clients’ needs front and centre, contribute to the wider industry and give back to the community. On the whole, this year’s Young Guns possess many ‘soft’ skills that have translated into rock-solid performance: great communication, emotional intelligence and the ability to walk in the client’s shoes. Together, these allow for the management of complex claims and the building of strong, collaborative relationships with clients and colleagues.


“Ben has overseen continuous year-on-year growth in his own portfolio, as well as the overall product portfolio for SUA.” John Deane, national operations manager for self-insurance at Gallagher Bassett, likewise showed excellent leadership in challenging times. “With the COVID-19 pandemic severely restricting service delivery to the Northern Territory, especially to remote and indigenous populations, John led his team to adapt and innovate the service delivery,”

METHODOLOGY In February, Insurance Business invited professionals from across the Australian insurance sector to nominate their most exceptional young talent for the annual Young Guns list. Nominees had to be age 35 or under (as of 31 March 2021) and working in a role that related to, interacted with or impacted the general insurance industry. Nominees must have committed to a career in insurance with a clear passion for the industry. Nominees were asked about their current role, key achievements, career goals and contribution to the shaping of the industry. Recommendations from managers and senior industry professionals were also considered. The Insurance Business team reviewed all nominations, narrowing the list down to 41 of the sector’s most outstanding young professionals.

9th year of Insurance Business’ Young Guns list

41% of this year’s Young Guns are women

44% of this year’s Young Guns are 30 or under

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FROM THE SPONSOR Blake Oliver Consulting is incredibly proud to support the 2021 Young Guns. Our business is built on working with exceptional talent, and as such, we place great value on supporting young Daniel Marsh Managing director talent in the insurance industry. The insurance – executive sector is bigger than ever and full of exceptional headhunter talent. Not only does the industry offer a diverse Blake Oliver Consulting and rewarding career path, it also enables elite individuals to develop and progress. The Young Guns recognised in this report have been nominated by industry professionals and acknowledged for their

says a colleague. “Despite the decreased access to traditional services, this enabled the delivery of improved year-on-year return-towork outcomes.”

Learning and leading As well as resilience and adaptability, common to all of our winners is a dedication to education and professional development – not just their own, but also that of their colleagues. Ellie McGrory, a lawyer at Hall & Wilcox, is just one example. “In addition to her

outstanding skills and excellent performance, and have demonstrated the best qualities of the industry. It takes commitment, dedication and focused determination to be recognised by your peers, and these individuals thrive on delighting their customers with the highest service standards. It gives me great pleasure to celebrate the success of the Young Guns in 2021 and to recognise their hard work and professionalism. Congratulations to all the nominees!

insurance practice, Ellie assists her supervising partners by supervising and settling work prepared by paralegals, law graduates and junior lawyers,” her nomination read. “Ellie is currently mentoring two law graduates, assisting them in goal-setting, career development and adjusting to life in the law after completing university studies. Ellie also mentors young lawyers before their first court appearances.” Mentoring is a key activity for all of this year’s Young Guns, who regularly volunteer






their time to coach and nurture less experienced team members. Many see mentoring as not only a necessary investment in the future of the business, but also a pivotal step in their own leadership development. Ellen Li, a technical services officer in QBE’s NSW liability claims team, has participated in numerous business improvement projects within the company. As well as managing a portfolio of complex claims and being the first point of contact for her team for technical advice, Li uses her legal background and technical claims experience to coach colleagues. “With a passion for developing her team members, she has championed a project to create practical training material that will assist new starters and junior team members with learning about various aspects of liability claims,” Li’s colleague says. A thirst for knowledge and self-improvement is another hallmark of this year’s Young Guns. Doris Mihajlovic, junior shorttail claims adjuster at Berkley Insurance Australia (BIA), typifies a learning model that combines formal qualifications with seeking out mentors within an organisation. “While at BIA, I have worked diligently to educate myself on top of my university degree,” Mihajlovic says. “I believe my university training enables me to optimise

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constantly improve and move the industry forward, was seen across this year’s Young Guns, who are challenging current thinking and pushing for innovations in process and practice.


25 and under


Clients come first

30 and under

35 and under

17 23

The strong client focus was evidenced in Young Guns who went not just the extra mile, but several thousand if need be, upping sticks across country to gain experience outcomes through problem-solving and critical thinking. I shadow my senior colleagues, should one of my claims have complex legal issues, and have attended a few mediations and informal settlement conferences.” As well as helping to cultivate the next generation of insurance professionals, our winners are forward-thinking and proactive, providing thought leadership at a time of great change and uncertainty. Rising stars like Clancy O’Donovan, senior associate at DLA Piper, have “one eye on the current landscape and another on future and emerging issues,” says a colleague. “Clancy is building his career as both a future leader in DLA Piper’s insur-


ance practice and as a trusted adviser to other industry leaders. In November 2019, Clancy jointly wrote the annual AILA Geoff Masel Lecture, ‘Insurance: Facing a Change of Era’, with Michael Gill. The well-received lecture discussed a range of challenges facing the insurance industry, including the conflict between shareholders and customers; the impact of developments in artificial intelligence and the ‘information age’ on insurers and consumers alike; and whether the future of insurance, and its value, lies in it being a purely commercial contract or rather a social promise.” This drive to anticipate change, to

A strong client focus was evidenced in Young Guns who went not just the extra mile, but several thousand if need be, upping sticks across country to gain experience and expand their learning. Jeff Williams, senior technical claims lead at Gallagher, was described by a colleague as “one of the best client advocates around – he will go out of his way to ensure the client gets the best possible result on their claim, and he does this by working with adjusters, insurers and anyone else involved in the claims process. He puts himself in the client’s shoes; he will hold their hand through what can be a very difficult and at times complex claims process.” Jonathan Yogarajah, corporate accounts manager at Gow-Gates Group, garnered this praise from his colleague: “Jonathan’s thirst for knowledge and self-improvement has underpinned his success in being recognised as an industry leader who is not only seen as an exceptional insurance broker but a true extension of his clients’ business. His enthusiasm towards protecting assets, people and livelihoods can only be described as forming part of his DNA.” This year’s Young Guns are also pushing for the betterment of the wider industry. The winners include 17 inspirational female role models who are active and vocal in their support for women in the industry, regularly attending forums like IB’s Women in Insurance Summit and striving to open up opportunities for women in the workplace. The professional expertise and technical prowess of this line-up goes without saying. What makes them Young Guns is that they are stellar all-rounders: always learning, teaching, innovating, giving back and helping the industry to evolve.

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Alex Stefan Technical claims manager CHU Underwriting Agencies

Jade Lyons Director JL Insurance Brokers

Tiffany Sangster Operations manager FreightSafe

Phone: 1300 289 248 Email: Website:

Phone: 0407 461 736 Email:

Ben Noakes Client relationship manager Insurance House Blackburn

Kirsty Dowell Office/administration/ compliance manager Stellar Insurance Brokers

Phone: 1300 733 033 Email: Website:

Phone: 03 8841 3300 Email: Website:

Phone: 1300 270 280 Email: Website:

Phone: 08 9228 2800 Email: Website:

John Deane National operations manager – self-insurance/GB Assist Gallagher Bassett

Nick Daffy Branch manager McLardy McShane

Douglas Strong Director Shielded Insurance Brokers Phone: 0449 636 864 Email: Website: Aimee Williams Commercial broking manager Austbrokers Coast to Coast Belén Dalvit Relationship manager Bell Partners Insurance Ben Johnston-Bradford Underwriter/responsible manager Specialist Underwriting Agencies

John DePeters Head of middle market and small commercial division, Asia-Pacific Chubb Jonathan Yogarajah Corporate account manager Gow-Gates Group Joshua Hawkins Account manager Brookvale Insurance Brokers

Ben Richardson NSW product lead – financial lines QBE Insurance

Laith Parissi Account executive Gallagher

Benjamin Lee Risk analyst, Australasia AIG Australia

Luke Davidson Performance, technical and complaints manager Mapfre Insurance Services Australia

Clancy O’Donovan Senior associate DLA Piper Australia Doris Mihajlovic Junior short-tail claims adjuster Berkley Insurance Australia Ellie McGrory Lawyer Hall & Wilcox Harleen Bhasin Business relationship manager QBE Insurance Jeff Williams Senior technical claims lead Gallagher Jeshri Lulla Commercial portfolio analyst DUAL Australia

Marian Parzakonis Branch services manager Chubb Martin Maguire Head of operations, Australia and New Zealand Claim Central Consolidated Megan Duckworth Co-founder and head of underwriting Mitti Insurance Michael Pham Client manager Aon Michelle De Cruz Assistant underwriter, financial lines Agile Underwriting Services

Tryan Christos Managing director Interlink Insurance Brokers

Nicole Pallavicini Managing principal, cyber Marsh Patrick Selle Authorised representative Arcuri & Associates Peter Syme Account broker Dynamic Insurance Brokers Raymond Loh Senior claims specialist AXA XL Rebecca Bowman Senior claims specialist, global lines – specialty AXA XL Sarah Ellis Portfolio manager – Northern Territory QBE Insurance Taela Bloemers Sales manager Austbrokers Coast to Coast Tate Harris Partner allinsure Taylor Burstow Insurance broker/account manager Willis Towers Watson Timothy Trandafilu Client manager Aon Tom O’Hara Manager – forensic advisory services division Sedgwick

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YOUNG GUNS 2021 DOUGLAS STRONG Director of Operations Shielded Insurance Brokers


s part of Shielded Insurance Brokers’ three-directorship team, Douglas Strong has oversight of the day-to-day operations and the process-building side of the fastgrowing business. Strong “has been with the business from day one and has grown quickly in a fastpaced environment,” says Stuart Brady, managing director at Shielded. “He has played an important role in identifying areas for improvement and changes required to ensure continued growth, whilst maintaining the highest level of service and value to our clients.” Over the past year, Strong’s capable leadership has helped Shielded grow its workforce by 30%, open a new Gold Coast office and implement technology-driven processes to facilitate easier workflows for the team. He also led Shielded to be named a Top Brokerage by Insurance Business in 2019 and 2020. Strong says being named an IB Young Gun gives him “that extra push to keep going” as he continues to guide Shielded Insurance Brokers to become a recognised and trusted brand within the industry. “I’m surrounded by a team with big ideas and a passion for what we do,” he says, “so there’s no doubt we’re in this industry for the long haul and here to innovate the industry for all insurance brokers.”

BEN NOAKES Client Relationship Manager Insurance House Blackburn


en Noakes is a highly regarded aviation insurance specialist who has extensive knowledge of many classes of general insurance and a passion for aviation insurance that is only exceeded by his passion for flying. Based in Melbourne, Noakes is responsible for a broad general insurance portfolio, including aviation, and for developing important relationships with both underwriters and clients to grow the aviation portfolio at Insurance House Group (IHG). Noakes assisted in developing the company’s online aviation insurance product for RA-Ausregistered aircraft, as well as the ongoing development to a full renewal life cycle. He has also been involved in many aviation discussion groups and regularly attends aviation events around Australia. Noakes has a double degree in business and aviation management from Swinburne University of Technology and a Tier 1 Insurance Broking qualification. He is currently working towards his QPIB and Diploma of Insurance Broking. Robert Viney, manager of IHG’s Blackburn and Adelaide branches, describes Noakes as “a young man of great integrity. He listens and learns and quite frankly leads the way for the office in IT understanding and assistance. He demonstrates true leadership qualities. He is kind, considerate and always willing to lend a hand. [He is] a no-fuss, patient, considerate individual – albeit he must hear ‘Hey, Ben’ 30 times a day from colleagues in the office who need assistance.”


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fantastic female figure for the industry” is how a peer describes Jade Lyons – and she has certainly forged an exemplary path for women to follow. After spending 26 months working as an authorised representative under Oracle Group Insurance Brokers, Lyons is excited to be launching her own brokerage, JL Insurance Brokers. Lyons entered the industry straight out of high school, working as a receptionist for Elders Insurance. From there, she moved into a support role, but it wasn’t long before she realised her ambitions lay in broking. She credits “the guidance of a number of colleagues, insurance advocates and amazing mentors” for helping her rise to senior broker. “That provided the platform to begin constructing the foundation of my book of clients and the journey to becoming an authorised representative.” It’s been Lyons’ mission to help others, especially women. “I believe in empowering women, highlighting their strengths, and providing opportunities for them to

grow and reach their goals,” she says. “Being a mother to a 5-year-old daughter, I have seen the challenges in running a successful insurance broking business while balancing the role of motherhood.” With a burgeoning workload, Lyons seized the chance to hire a former colleague as her assistant, and her team grew from there. “Collaborative teamwork was always something I had envisioned for my future in insurance,” she says. “Due to the amount of business generated from referrals, I was soon searching for additional employees. A main area of focus was providing them with training. Seeing others succeed and grow professionally is such a wonderful thing to witness.” Inspired by her businessman father, Lyons had her sights on the corporate world early on. While insurance wasn’t yet on her radar, it turned out to be a great fit. “The skills required in insurance include problem-solving and helping people, both of which I embody naturally,” she says. “Creating positive working relationships has

allowed me to network with fellow brokers and gain insight and knowledge to develop my insurance ability. I also enjoy the challenges insurance broking provides and educating my clients around my particular areas of expertise. The positive feedback from clients is also something I love.” Starting your own brokerage is no mean feat, especially after a year like 2020, and Lyons is justifiably proud. It’s a huge personal achievement – and also an important signpost for others. “Opening up our first office in West Perth was such an exciting time; I’m so glad I had the confidence and perseverance to back myself and take the risk,” she says. “In order to facilitate professional growth for females in insurance, it is important we see strong females in leadership roles. My goal is to become a mentor to people wanting to enter the insurance industry. Additionally, I would like to continue to promote worklife balance for like-minded women and to create opportunities and development for my team.”

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Technical Claims Manager

Office/Administration/Compliance Manager

CHU Underwriting Agencies

Stellar Insurance Brokers


lex Stefan is an evolving leader who is well regarded by colleagues for her technical proficiency, can-do attitude and strict work ethic. Upon joining CHU in January 2018, Stefan established a specialised major loss team, providing training to upskill staff and implementing processes to ensure the management of claims and subsequent cost reduction. Her efforts resulted in a 10% reduction in the average cost of major loss claims and a 3% drop in loss ratio nationally, which consequently reduced the cost of premiums for CHU customers. Stefan has also created a referral process for recoveries, established a national specialised building and loss adjuster panel for major losses, implemented a cash settlement procedure, drafted and implemented a national claims procedure manual for the entire CHU claims function, and piloted a recycling program with Handel Waste Management as part of CHU’s sustainability strategy. Her many responsibilities include managing the QBE internal audit for CHU claims nationally and completing the Builders Panel Review for claims. Looking forward, Stefan is working toward her goal of joining CHU’s senior leadership team by attending extended leadership meetings and contributing to CHU’s environment and sustainability endeavours. In the near future, she hopes to establish and manage a ‘green team’ that will help CHU implement environmentally conscious solutions.



n integral part of Stellar Insurance Brokers, Kirsty Dowell’s leadership and capabilities recently earned her a promotion to director after more than a decade with the Brisbanebased brokerage. Dowell joined Stellar in 2007 in an administration support role; since then, she has continually advanced her knowledge of the insurance industry and assumed roles with increasing responsibility. Over the past 12 months, Dowell has essentially taken over the day-to-day leadership of the business, including leading the sales and administration teams, training and mentoring staff, ensuring compliance with HR and WH&S requirements, and managing and maintaining Stellar’s website and social media presence. Outside the office, Dowell mentors junior aspiring leaders as part of the Future Leaders Program with the Council of Queensland Insurance Brokers (CQIB). She also played an integral role in designing, writing and rolling out the 2021 Future Leaders Program. Her insurance knowledge and outstanding contributions to the organisation led her to win the 2021 CQIB Peter McCarthy Memorial Award for Young Insurance Professional of the Year. Dowell says being named an IB Young Gun is a “recognition and acknowledgement of all the hard work and dedication” she has contributed to the business and the industry. “It reinforces my commitment to this wonderful profession, which I have become deeply passionate about.”

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TRYAN CHRISTOS Managing Director Interlink Insurance Brokers


ryan Christos joined Interlink Insurance Brokers in 2007, becoming the fourth generation of his family to work in the insurance industry. He steadily rose up the ranks to assume the managing director role in September 2019. Now all senior divisional and operational personnel report directly to him, and he oversees all aspects of broking, claims, sales, marketing, injury and risk management, accounting, and compliance to ensure the company achieves its mission and goals. Christos led his team through various challenges over the past year, including shifting the entire business to a remote work platform during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has also created new self-funding risk and injury management divisions, which not only provided Interlink with an additional income stream, but have also had a significant impact on the overall service offering to clients. His efforts netted him recognition as NIBA’s Young Professional Broker of the Year for Western Australia in October 2020. “As broking operations manager, I work closely with Tryan and have seen the positive impact his leadership has had on the business since he assumed the MD role,” says Ian O’Sullivan, broking operations manager at Interlink. “The relationship he has with both the older and younger people within the business is excellent … [He is] both a respected and popular leader.”

TIFFANY SANGSTER Operations Manager FreightSafe


ince joining FreightSafe as a casual employee five years ago, Tiffany Sangster has risen to operations manager, tasked with leading a team of 35 people, defining and implementing technology spend, and overseeing the management of claims. She joined FreightSafe in 2016 in a senior claims manager role and was promoted to her current role as operations manager a couple of years later. FreightSafe CEO Jonathan Bass says Sangster’s growth over the past 12 months has been nothing short of sensational. She transformed the company’s entire operation into a digital-first paperless environment, facilitating the management of close to 50,000 claims without using a single piece of paper. “Within five years, Tiffany has grown from a claims administrator to one of the most senior employees in our business through a passion to learn, a razor focus on detailed compliance and driving technology through the business,” Bass says. “As a result, FreightSafe is today the largest claims manager to the transport industry, managing tens of thousands of claims each year, with Tiffany’s significant efforts leading our strategy and delivery.” Sangster will soon take on a new challenge as FreightSafe’s COO. She is being directly mentored by Bass and is currently undertaking significant study through ANZIIF to further her insurance career.

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The big 4-0 GSK Insurance Brokers founder Graham Knight looks back at four decades in the insurance business – and reveals what’s next for the “proudly West Australian” brokerage

IT WAS 1981 when then-30-year-old Graham Knight set up GSK Insurance Brokers at a home office in Belmont, an industrial suburb of Perth. Four decades and zero acquisitions later, the “proudly West Australian-owned and -operated business” is still providing insurance, risk management, claims advocacy and workers’ compensation advice to individuals and businesses in Australia. “I started in the basement of my motherin-law’s house in Belmont, on Great Eastern Highway, to control the costs, and I built the business from there,” says Knight, who began his insurance career at Sun Alliance at age 15 and later worked for QBE and South British Insurance before founding GSK. “I then purchased some property across the road and built a building there in 1987, which we are still in today.” Knight’s path to founding GSK began even earlier; by 1974, he had made the decision to work for himself. At the time, he was exploring business ideas outside the insurance world but was pulled back in by the industry, where he worked for a few more years before finally taking the leap to go it alone. “I was a young man, married with two children, and had a very good job,” he says. “So it was a big decision to make back then.”


Today, GSK Insurance Brokers employs 50 people, some of whom have been with Knight for three decades or more. Among its clients are small businesses that have since become successful publicly listed companies. In Knight’s view, the strong staff retention at GSK is a testament to how he relates not only to customers, but also to those who work for him, allowing the brokerage to establish a “really good” culture over the years. “I started off with a one-man band and progressed,” he says. “And I have to say that we, in those 40 years, have never had an acquisition. The business that we built was built purely on referrals and very focused customer service. “The proud thing [for me] is providing this great service to people, and that’s my focus. I hate the phone ringing more than three times and things like that. I’m from the old school, and I’ve always been very attuned to providing the best possible service you can and trying to

get the best outcome for our clients, whether it be putting an insurance program together or getting a claim paid.” For Knight, this major milestone is simply reflective of the yearly growth and success of GSK. To celebrate the brokerage’s 40th anniversary, the firm organised a small, COVID19-safe gathering of colleagues, business partners and clients at a Swan River venue in June. It was an opportunity to recognise GSK’s loyal clients and business partners for their support and to celebrate the hard work of GSK’s staff and brokers. As for his next move, Knight says that while he’s “still very healthy” and continues to have a lot of energy, succession planning is high on the agenda at GSK. The brokerage is also contending with the massive challenge of finding solutions for customers amid what Knight describes as one of the toughest insurance cycles he has seen in all his years in the industry.

ABOUT GSK INSURANCE BROKERS Established in the Perth suburbs in 1981, GSK Insurance Brokers provides risk management, insurance, claims advocacy and workers’ compensation advice. GSK’s brokers pride themselves on providing deep specialist knowledge, tailored advice and excellent service in the client’s best interest.

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THE INDUSTRIES GSK INSURANCE BROKERS SERVES Agriculture Building and construction Chauffeurs/drivers Couriers and parcel drivers Health and pharmacy Hotels, pubs and hospitality Manufacturing Non-profit Pilot vehicle drivers Professionals and consultants Property owners and developers Residential and commercial strata Restaurants and cafés Retail SMEs Supermarkets Transportation and logistics

“I’m from the old school, and I’ve always been very attuned to providing the best possible service you can and trying to get the best outcome for our clients”

“As our local and global operating environments continue to change, so do our clients’ risk profiles, and our focus will be on ensuring we adapt to the needs of our clients during these challenging times,” he says. “However, our core principles of personalised service and professionalism will remain firm.”

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Brokering a revolution The technology for a fully digitised, real-time consumer experience is here – but few insurers are using it. Shaji Sethu and Chris Tandy of Duck Creek Technologies explain why insurers and brokers need to get behind the digital revolution REMEMBER WHEN making a music playlist meant recording from vinyl onto a cassette tape? When you’d pop that little plastic rectangle into your cassette player and hum along or play air guitar until the sad, inevitable day when the tape got mangled


mid-song? Perhaps not – because we now live in a streamlined, digitised world where Spotify reigns supreme and even curates your playlists for you. Insurance, however, has been slow to adapt to the reality of how we live now, say

Shaji Sethu, managing director, APAC, and Chris Tandy, lead business architect at Duck Creek Technologies, a software company that provides core system solutions to the general insurance industry as either standalone products or a full suite of systems. It’s not a question of if the industry will catch up because it has to. It’s not even a matter of hoping the right technology will come along, because the tech is already here. What is harder to come by is the right mindset, say Sethu and Tandy. Many insurers are either not responding to the shifting landscape or doing so with something that looks digital but isn’t. “Many have started to sell traditional risk indemnification products – analogue products – through digital channels,” Sethu says. “This is akin to setting up a digital music business by selling vinyl records through a web front end. It does not allow carriers to achieve the scale of Spotify – a truly global digital music business.” Tandy adds that “many insurers have

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infrastructure, systems, governance models and investments in legacy product lines, and this focus can make some traditionally slow to react to market changes and opportunities around what the future will look like. A mentality of gatekeeping the past may hold some insurers back.” This leads many insurers to innovate in a piecemeal way rather than looking at the problem holistically, he says. “They will introduce pieces of technology and plug them into their legacy [systems] on the belief that the underlying premise of competition is not going to change substantially. The war [for competition] today is, ‘Here is my product; here is the price in underwriting terms that I will sell it at.’ The war of tomorrow is, ‘How is my product adapting to changing consumer usage and demand patterns?’

the status quo has been disrupted by several factors, Sethu says. • Risk volatility: Emerging risks, from a changing climate to cyber hacks, are exposing organisations to unprecedented threat levels that change rapidly. • The rise of intangible assets: Between 1975 and 2015, the total market valuation of intangible business assets of S&P 500 companies rose from 17% to 87%, which has challenged insurance models that were based on risk indemnification of physical assets. • New data sets and data streams: These are being created at an unprecedented rate through social media and other platforms. IoT devices are

“Many [insurers] have started to sell traditional risk indemnification products through digital channels. This is akin to setting up a digital music business by selling vinyl records through a web front end” Shaji Sethu, Duck Creek Technologies “Rather than standardised products, they are more likely to be sold in a far more componentised fashion. It will be, ‘Do you want to cover this risk; do you want to selfinsure or self-insure to that level, and then we will pick it up? Right now, it’s, ‘Do you want to buy or not buy?’” This means most insurers are missing out on the huge benefits that new technology offers to deliver the best possible customer experience – and, in particular, to simplify the process for clients who increasingly demand simplicity. Since the early days of insurance in London’s coffee shops, little has changed in its core premise: risk indemnification. But

creating digital twins of physical assets, thus providing data streams about asset context – something that was not possible just a few years ago. • Falling production costs: The future replacement value of insured objects is plummeting, putting downward pressure on premiums as people realise that paying the replacement cost is cheaper than the insurance premium. • The rental phenomenon: Instead of owning assets, people are shifting to renting assets such as cars and houses, so their risk exposure is lower.

These developments have led to a corresponding change in customer expectations. “E-commerce companies are setting new expectations for insurers due to shifting customer expectations of how, when, why and the way they buy,” Sethu says. “Yesterday’s wow is today’s norm, and consumers expect to buy and use insurance in ever-decreasing time.”

Insurance as a solution What insurers need to do is create authentically digital products with digital policies, Tandy says. This type of omnichannel insurance model can constantly monitor the interaction between the insurer and insured objects in real time and, based on the data stream, can help the insurer better manage risk or mitigate emerging risk. A fully digital insurance product is context-aware and changes based on the current state and risks of the insured object rather than what has happened over the past few years. “They are products that are alive, constantly looking for new ways to prevent risks from eventuating, reduce the severity of the outcome and identify new potential hazards in real time,” Tandy says. “This approach moves carriers’ and insurers’ interaction from selling insurance to consuming insurance.” He cites the example of the Roost telematics system. “If a homeowner has water damage, the first hour is critical, as from then on, the damage keeps escalating. We have integration with Roost telematics that can be installed into a customer’s roof. If the system detects a water leak, it calls into Duck Creek, places a claim and calls a plumber, thereby reducing the severity of the damage.” Sethu points to global insurer Chubb’s recent introduction of Pay As You Roam (PAYR) travel insurance as one of the “green shoots” of fully digital products. PAYR uses mobile phone roaming data to identify when customers are outside their home country, then activates coverage automatically at a daily premium. PAYR could be applied to a domestic scenario, too. More of us now work from home, for example, so why not build that

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SECTOR FOCUS: TECHNOLOGY reality into an insurance product? “Imagine if, when you work from home, you pay less premium,” Sethu says. “Your insurance software is connected to your alarm system, so when you arm it, your premium goes up for the period you are out of the house. But you collect loyalty points when you are home. At the end of the year, your insurer says, ‘You’ve got 500 loyalty points; why not use them to buy a new TV on our website?’” Digitisation is also an opportunity to reach younger consumers who do everything

on their phones, Sethu adds. “Young people aren’t buying big insurance products,” he says. “But they might consider contents, so make it simple. If you just purchased an expensive item on your credit card, a message could pop up on your phone: ‘You just bought a camera; would you like to purchase insurance for it?’ And you answer a simple yes or no.”

What about brokers? So far, so wonderful for the consumer. But what of the broker? What will their role be

“Think about travel. We can now book directly, but we still go to an agent because it’s a curated experience. That’s what a broker can offer” Chris Tandy, Duck Creek Technologies THE RISE OF THE DIGITAL INSURER

Analog insurer

Sells and services traditional insurance products through human interaction. Internal processes related to policy, billing and claims are mostly manual, with some basic level of systemisation

Digitally enabled insurer Sells and services traditional insurance products through digital channels – i.e. online quote-and-bind with customer portal and online FNOL. This is akin to selling vinyl records online

Digital insurer

Customer-obsessed insurer

Provides insurance products that are context-aware of the interaction between the insured and the insured object and attempt to minimise or mitigate the risk based on this interaction

Offers tailored products with hyperpersonalised service across billing and claims, based on customer needs

Source: Duck Creek Technologies


in this new super-digitised insurance world? Tandy believes brokers will be more important than ever. They can use these tech tools – whether it’s an IoT device, tracking, a phone or all of the above – to ask a client, “How do I help you mitigate the risk so you can decide whether to insure or self-insure?” “Similar to many true advisers, they need to consider the company’s balance sheet and risk appetite,” Tandy says. “They can say, ‘Based on the financial position of your company, can you afford to wear the risk if it does eventuate, and how many times a year can you afford to wear that?’ Therefore, the business is making a much more informed decision about risks ceded to underwriters and retained within the business itself.” In this context, Tandy believes brokers will increasingly become highly valued curators of risk management, mitigation and financial modelling. “Think about travel,” he says. “We can now book directly, but we still go to an agent because it’s a curated experience. That’s what a broker can offer. They can say that based on their experience, this is the combination of insurance you should have.” Making the shift to this fully digitised experience is about much more than the software, Sethu points out. “It’s about a state of mind. Most brokers know their customer well – that’s why customers go to them. So don’t just sell them a policy and move on. Be there for the wider services. We need to rethink insurance, to reimagine it based on the new demographic, the new data sets, the new tech. Make it simple. Make it so simple it becomes second nature.” Importantly, brokers are in a powerful position to persuade a somewhat reluctant insurance industry to adapt. “They’re buying products from insurance companies then on-selling to the customer,” Sethu says. “So don’t buy from organisations that sell the vanilla product; buy from carriers that can tailor it to your customer’s needs. Brokers have buyers’ power. They can create a change for good.”

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Re-imagine Insurance. Made on Duck Creek. Transformation never stops with an open SaaS solution.

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Start trusting your team If you want your team to be successful, you have to stop treating them like kids, writes Gustavo Razzetti LEADING IS like parenting – everybody thinks they do a better job than they actually do. There’s a definite gap between how most executives assess themselves and how their direct reports do. Leaders and their teams seem to be watching two different movies. Organisations want employees to become more mature, accountable and to drive change


– yet their policies and rules treat people like kids. Without realising it, many executives act like helicopter bosses: They have good intentions, but their need to control and protect their people doesn’t allow them to grow. There’s a tension that keeps repeating over and over – when things don’t go well, there’s a tendency to blame it on ‘the people’. I help

organisations build cultures of change – to become more experimental, innovative and adaptive. When I kick off a project, I receive a brief from senior executives. Most of the time, the diagnosis focuses on how their teams are not performing as they should. The company is trying to push change forward, but people’s behaviours and mindsets are  supposedly  getting in the way. While the description isn’t necessarily wrong, it’s far from being accurate. Afterward, when we interview the broader team, we get to listen to the other side of the story. Both stories are right and wrong at the same time. Driving change is not about taking sides, but a collective experience. Don’t expect people to change if your rules stay the same. Addressing this gap with my clients, I’ve come to a simple realisation. Most senior executives believe they are good at delegating and inspiring people based on a different standard – a paternalist leadership style they

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learned from their bosses decades ago. But delegation and freedom aren’t what they used to be. Today’s environment requires removing the boundaries between leaders and ‘the rest’. People expect a more transparent, experimental and participatory culture. Leadership is about co-creation – people want to be active contributors, not just passive implementers. Your team wants to be treated as equals, not as kids.

Stop planning, start experimenting We live in an uncertain, volatile and fastchanging era. However, most senior executives were trained to manage organisations in a predictable world. Most companies keep thinking on annual cycles. Annual planning, employee performance reviews and promotions, to name a few, are based on a 12-month period. We need to become better at adapting

practices’, organisations need to promote an experimental mindset. Rules and processes must be constantly challenged and improved. We must stop treating people like children and let them actively participate, design and influence how the company operates. Your team needs more room to experiment, make mistakes, adapt and evolve.

Five ways to start treating people like adults Here are some ways to unleash the leaders within your team by treating them as such. These are not meant to be comprehensive or perfect, but rather to get you started.


Create rules that enable rather than forbid

Most companies have rules that are based on a command-and-control mentality that

Rules control how and what people should do, rather than enable them to act freely and do what they believe is best for the company rather than anticipating. As Susan Peters, GE’s head of human resources, put it: “The world isn’t really on an annual cycle anymore for anything.” The same applies to organisational structures or policies. They were written when things were supposedly predictable – organisations wanted to control how things should be done. That model operated under the assumption that leaders knew better. They were in charge of making strategic decisions and then persuading others to follow. However, a top-down approach is ineffective. Every person in a team is a sensor. They can detect problems and opportunities; every member can develop new ideas, information or ways to operate. The future is uncertain. Modern leaders must be humble and vulnerable enough to admit they don’t have all the answers – least of all that they can predict what will happen tomorrow. Rather than being stuck in ‘best

was originated in the Industrial Revolution. Managers had to supervise that people showed up, did their jobs and followed the policies. The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t promote trust. Rules control how and what people should do, rather than enable them to act freely and do what they believe is best for the company. Also, corporate rules tend to be one-way. Employees are supposed to clock in and out but are expected to reply to work emails during the weekend. Netflix’s unlimited vacation policy is the opposite – rather than tracking time, it focuses on performance. When a culture is built around accountability, people behave like adults – there’s no need to cheat.


Delegate decision-making rather than tasks

I have yet to hear a senior executive acknowledge that they are not good at delegating.

The problem is that they task people with managing projects but don’t delegate decision-making. No matter how empowered a team is, in the end, they always need their boss’s approval. Real delegation includes full accountability for both actions and repercussions. You can start by encouraging your team to make decisions in small doses. Safe-to-try decisions are an excellent contribution from Holacracy, a self-management system. It moves teams into action rather than waiting for the perfect solution or for the boss to chime in. Think of safe-to-try as a litmus test. To accept or reject a proposal, there are two questions the team should consider: • Will this decision move the team backward? • Will the proposal, if implemented, cause harm that cannot be mitigated promptly? There’s always time to course correct. Let the team adjust its path based on actual feedback instead of hypothesis based on fear or anticipation.


Trust people’s criteria over the process

Organisations that prioritise processes over results end up encouraging politics rather than accountability. E-commerce retailer Zappos gives its employees freedom to follow their own criteria versus telling them what’s right or wrong. An employee can send a new pair of shoes free of charge to a bride whose shoes never showed up without asking anyone for permission. Solving the client’s problem is priority number one – employees use their best judgment rather than follow a rigid process. Do you encourage your team to follow or break the rules? What is most important? To get the job done or to follow the process? Rules shouldn’t limit your team’s ability to perform their jobs. Breaking rules isn’t bad when it’s done with a purpose.


Encourage failure rather than protectionism

Helicopter bosses aren’t just micromanagers – they tend to be overprotective, too. By trying

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Freedom drives accountability – contrary to popular belief, the more freedom people get, the more engaged and committed they are to protect the team from getting hurt, they can cause more damage. Teams need to make mistakes to learn and grow. At Nixon McInnes, a social media company, the Church of Fail is a monthly ritual. Employees are invited to stand and confess their mistakes and are wildly applauded for doing so. Does your organisation punish mistakes or encourage people to learn from them? Embracing mistakes promotes transparency and experimentation. Everyone makes mistakes; publicly acknowledging them ensures that people can learn from them and that others won’t make the same one. Also, mistakes are a means to an end – action is always better than inaction.



Provide challenges instead of direction

People want to be challenged so they can give their best. However, more than threequarters of workers believe their bosses don’t motivate them to unleash their true potential. Most senior managers tend to define the path rather than letting their team members find the solution. They provide unsolicited advice instead of challenging people with questions. When work is organised around projects, people’s responsibilities become repetitive and predictable, thus decreasing excitement and engagement. Assign challenges rather than tasks. It’s more interesting to be in charge of “How can we inspire and educate our clients?” than to be

the monthly newsletter manager. A challenge invites people to improve their game, not just to continue playing the same way. Leadership requires a new standard. Invite your team to co-create how your organisation works and operates. Encourage people to experiment and fail, to break the rules with a purpose, to make decisions, and to prioritise results over processes. Freedom drives accountability – contrary to popular belief, the more freedom people get, the more engaged and committed they are. Your team is made up of responsible adults who should be trusted. They don’t need to be controlled. What you give is what you get. Gustavo Razzetti is the CEO of Liberationist, a change leadership consultancy that helps organisations become more innovative. He is also a keynote speaker and the author of Stretch for Change and Stretch Your Mind. For more information, visit

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From small changes to huge gains In a technological world in which we’re expected to be online all the time, it can be easy for productivity to drop as interruptions become the norm. Amantha Imber outlines three small adjustments that can boost your team’s performance

EVERY MINUTE of every workday, there are many managers who are inadvertently killing their teams’ productivity. They are doing this by expecting their teams to be at their beck and call, responding to instant messages or emails within a few minutes. They do this by constantly interrupting their teams – because it’s OK for managers to interrupt people, isn’t it? And they spread out numerous meetings across the course of the week, many of which are not helping anyone make progress on their most important projects. Adobe’s Consumer Email Survey, conducted across 1,000 white-collar workers, showed that we spend two and a half hours in our inbox each day. Furthermore, research published in the MIT Sloan Management Review revealed that executives spend 23 hours a week in meetings – and their subordinates are probably not that far behind. Often, when we talk about improving


productivity, common sense suggests that to achieve big gains, we need to make big changes. Yet what we know from fields such as cognitive psychology and behavioural economics is that small changes can actually lead to big leaps forward in performance. I call this microproductivity – tiny changes that can lead to huge improvements in the way we work. If you’re a manager, here are three simple microproductivity tactics you can try that will have a dramatic impact on your team’s performance.


Ask your team members to work to their chronotype

Do you know which members of your team are morning versus evening people – which ones are firing on all cylinders in the morning and which ones come to life at night? If you don’t know this information,

then you need to get to know it, because this has huge implications for performance. Around 14% of people fit into the category of ‘larks,’ the types of people who are brighteyed and bushy-tailed at 6 am. Another 21% are ‘owls,’ who peak in the evening. And the rest of us are ‘middle birds,’ who fall somewhere in between. Once you know where individuals sit on this scale, encourage them to structure their day based on their chronotype. Let your larks start work as early as they like – but this means letting them leave early, too. And encourage your owls to do the opposite. Larks and middle birds are best suited to doing focused and analytical work in the mornings and less cognitively intense work in the afternoons. Owls’ days should be structured in the opposite manner. On my team at Inventium, I have a couple of larks who regularly start work between 4

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am and 5 am, when their brains are firing, and finish a bit after lunchtime. By encouraging your team to work to their individual chronotypes, you’ll boost performance significantly by aligning people’s natural clocks with work tasks.


Allocate one distraction-free hour each day

The average team starts the day in reactive mode. Emails and Slack are checked at the start of the day, which puts everyone on the back foot, playing whack-a-mole with their inbox to try to achieve the elusive ‘inbox zero’ and attempting to respond to everyone’s requests for their time. And come the end of the day, we wonder why it’s so common to think to ourselves, “What on earth did I achieve today?” If this sounds like your team, you need to help them protect at least one hour of their day when they can work proactively on their most important projects without interruption. Ideally, this should be the first hour of the day, before incoming messages start competing for their attention.

To kick things off, send out a calendar invite to your team titled “Distraction-free hour.” Block this out in everyone’s calendar for the first hour of their workday (except for owls – their hour of power should be at the end of the day). Giving people permission to stay out of their inboxes and protecting this time from meetings will allow your team to

the greater the productivity gains you’ll see.


Batch meetings

As a manager, you’re probably responsible for setting many of your team’s meetings. Many managers don’t give much thought to the timing of meetings. All that often matters is that attendees are

Come the end of the day, we wonder why it’s so common to think to ourselves, “What on earth did I achieve today?” get a big chunk of deep, focused work done. You’ll see that people will use this time to make big steps forward on their projects – and, as an added bonus, this creates a much more energising start to the day compared to getting buried in emails. After your team has mastered its hour of power, you might start to build up to 90 minutes or even two hours. The more time you set aside for focused and uninterrupted work,

free at the allocated time. But by not considering the timing of meetings, you are unwittingly killing productivity. A series of experiments by researchers at Ohio State University showed that when people have a meeting coming up within an hour or two, they use their time much less productively. One of the studies found that when people had a meeting coming up, they got 22% less work done in the time before the meeting started than they did when they didn’t have a meeting approaching. To boost productivity, batch your team’s meetings. You might decide to set aside two or three afternoons per week that are specifically for meetings, or you might want to restrict meetings to only occurring during certain hours of the day, such as from 2 pm to 4 pm. By batching meetings, you will eliminate the ‘dead’ time that happens when meetings are scattered randomly throughout every workday. All three of these changes should be quick and easy to implement, but the results that will spring from any one of them will be enormous. Dr. Amantha Imber is the founder of Inventium, a leading innovation consultancy, and the host of How I Work, a podcast about the habits and rituals of the world’s most successful innovators.

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That’s the insurance stalwart in his SES flood gear


Number of years Dunn has been in the insurance industry


Years he has volunteered with the NSW State Emergency Service


Number of volunteer competencies he’s acquired to date

AFTER THE DELUGE Senior broking executive Richard Dunn doesn’t just insure against natural disasters – he also helps to save lives in their wake RICHARD DUNN has a certain fascination with floods that extends to both his broking expertise and his service as a volunteer with the NSW State Emergency Service (SES). A senior account executive at Driessen Insurance Brokers, Dunn is also part of the SES Penrith and Mount Druitt


units with a focus on flood intelligence. “I use my skill set because I’ve been a broker for so long, and I look at flood maps anyway,” he says. “By using flood card templates developed by NSW SES, I go out to the site and note, ‘This is what it looks like when it’s not in flood; this is what it

looks like when it’s in flood; this is the history of flood.’ This assists flood rescue volunteers to better understand the risk.” Dunn, who first encountered the SES as a kid when a tree fell on his family’s house, adds: “We’ve got really good emergency services. That’s why so many lives get saved.”

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