A new insurance organisation hopes to fill a gap in the market for underwriting agents.

The New Zealand Underwriting Agencies Council has been set up to cater for what it says are underwriting agents’ unique issues and needs, which are not addressed by other professional bodies.

As of April 2020, approximately 40 underwriting agents represent 10% (around $700-million) of the Fire and General insurance premiums in New Zealand. These underwriting agents have had no local representation as a collective organisation. 

For the past five years, UAC Australia has been open to New Zealand members because both these markets had many features in common. But over time there has been a considerable divide between the two regulatory environments. This led to discussions between UAC Australia’s executive director, William Legge, and a new steering committee in New Zealand to set up a standalone New Zealand organisation. 

“The New Zealand Underwriting Agencies Council Inc (NZUAC) has been registered as an incorporated entity, has drafted a constitution, and is in the process of contacting underwriting agents to become founding members and be represented by the organisation,” said John Baker, chair of Star Insurance Specialists and NZUAC steering committee chair.

NZUAC’s inaugural meeting is planned for September 2020. 

“As the New Zealand insurance market becomes more regulated, the delivery of insurance solutions becomes more fragmented. New Zealand needs a professional and united front to represent the interests of New Zealand’s 40-plus underwriting agencies,” Baker said.

One of NZUAC’s roles will be to amplify the combined voice of underwriting agents in New Zealand to lobby legislators and protect their interests against the various government regulations that intend to affect the industry.  

The local steering committee includes: 

John Baker (Star Insurance Specialists), Morgan Balderstone (Able Insurance), George Dmitriev (Insurance Underwriters NZ), Phil Hibbert (Protecta Insurance), Andrew McFetridge (Rosser Underwriting), Lyndon Turner (NM Group NZ) and David Walton (NZ Underwriting Agents). 

Their first task is to get the remainder of New Zealand’s underwriting agents onboard as founding members. 

As a professional, representative industry body, NZUAC represents and promotes its members’ interests within the wider insurance industry and to the government and regulators to ensure there is an understanding by them as to what and how underwriting agents fit into the insurance landscape, and  how they help to create competitive and innovative insurance solutions.

“As an organisation we’ll monitor, and where necessary, develop positions on insurance regulation, as well as engage in matters that affect the wellbeing of the underwriting agency industry,” Baker said.

The NZUAC’s ultimate objective is to actively improve and protect the underwriting agency industry through a united front. This includes representing underwriting agencies in discussions and/or negotiations with legislative or government bodies, promoting underwriting agencies as an economically efficient means of insurance distribution, promoting the views, interests, and arguments of underwriting
agencies to all relevant bodies, organisations, groups, interests, and/or media, setting guidelines to assist members in ensuring
the stability, security, and reputation of their individual businesses, encouraging members’ professional development through training
and education programmes and liaising with other professional associations in New Zealand and overseas and spark dialogue
in the community.

September 2020

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