Humans of NZI

Born in London, raised in Hawkes Bay and proud Waiwera Valley resident, Chris Hughes, executive manager broker and specialist claims, started in the insurance industry 33 years ago and has recently come full circle. 

After an extensive career in the brokerage world, including seven years in London, Chris has returned to the IAG fold, having worked for State Insurance 30 years ago. 

Throughout his broking career, Chris worked closely with the NZI team, and so when it came time for a change, he decided to try life on the other side of the insurance fence. 

“For 27 years of my career, I’ve been in the broking space, which I’ve loved and have a deep respect for. It’s a great model, and because I have first-hand knowledge of brokers’ expectations and the pressure they’re under, I know how we, as an insurer, can adapt to meet those demands. 

“This perspective is what I’m excited to bring to NZI, so we can further improve our claims experience for both brokers and customers. That’s my biggest drive.”

What Chris is bringing to the table

Chris and his family (wife, two sons and two chocolate Labradors) have lived in Rural North Auckland for the last four years. Since then, Chris has developed a newfound passion. 

“I really enjoy landscaping and growing my own veggies and fruit throughout the year. I’ve just put a greenhouse up, so we’ll have tomatoes and peppers all year round.

“What I like about it is that gardening and cultivating involves a lot of planning. You have to make sure you do it at the right time and in the right way, and if you do, then you get to harvest good food to bring to the table.”

For Chris, this is no different to the workplace.

“With any transformation, you want to make sure you do it right - the timing and the way you do things is key. That’s why it’s important to take the time to plan, look at all the possibilities, and hear different perspectives.”

Bringing the claims promise to life 

For Chris, the insurance industry has come a long way since he first started. The role of the claims function has become more prominent, and Chris knows that further enhancing this is the way forward.

“Before claims time or the moment of truth, you’re selling a theory, a bit of paper and a promise. Claims time is when that promise comes to life. Brokers need to know when they recommend an insurer that their claims service isn’t going to let them down.

“If you’ve taken the time to recommend NZI, you know we promise to stand behind you with our claims proposition. We’re already getting great feedback on our high levels of consistency and service, but we won’t be resting there.” 

Improving and speeding up processes to make things easier for brokers so they can spend more time with customers is a big goal for Chris.

“I want us to challenge ourselves in our thinking of what else we can do and how we can work with our broker partners to improve the claims service.

“There’s a lot more opportunity when it comes to the use of technology. We have to work smarter together, leveraging each other’s skills and abilities to make sure we’re not duplicating work or getting in each other’s way, so the customer experience is quick and slick.”

Up for the challenge

Since Chris can remember, he’s always had a competitive drive. “I’m probably too competitive for my own good. To be clear, I’m gracious in defeat, but I just don’t like not winning!

“This probably stems from being a middle child, needing to fight to be seen!”

Growing up, Chris also played a lot of competitive sports, including football, tennis and cricket, and even represented Hawkes Bay at a junior level in all three. Now Chris enjoys playing golf at a more leisurely pace. 

In a work environment, this drive has been the motor to turn his aspirations into reality.

“I’m very committed to our team, our partners and customers. I’m determined to see our efforts to further enhance NZI’s claims experience come through successfully.

“Above all, I want us to keep delivering on our promise - there’s always more work to be done to improve, adapt and to continue fostering those strong broker relationships.”

March 2022

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