What do you think the big challenges are for insurers right now?

Supporting vulnerable customers is front and centre for all of us right now. The economic and health challenges that have unfolded as a result of Covid-19 are unprecedented. I'm proud of the way the insurance sector has supported New Zealanders. From the outset, the Insurance Council has worked closely with insurers, Government and the public to help raise awareness of the help available, and how insurance can contribute to financial resilience. 

How do you feel about FSLAA? What will it change for the general insurance world?

Ultimately, the legislation will help deliver better outcomes for New Zealanders. The changes will raise standards, increase transparency and support customers to make informed decisions. I'm confident insurers will respond positively to the change. The general insurance sector already has a strong focus on self-regulation. The Fair Insurance Code is followed by all Insurance Council member companies and has recently been revised to improve accessibility and understanding of insurance. 

Where are the opportunities for insurers right now?

Economic crises have a habit of putting financial resilience in the spotlight. Significant effort's going into helping New Zealanders under financial pressure maintain their insurance. If we continue doing this well, insurers will come out the other side of Covid-19 with stronger reputations and greater understanding of the part we play in maintaining the economic wellbeing of our customers and their businesses.  

Being there in person has been central to how many insurers work with their customers, but the lockdown has meant working differently for our assessors, brokers and advisers. We've tried some new things, such as using drones to remotely assess claims, and the challenge now is to take the things we've learned during this time and integrate them into our new ways of working.

What are the biggest challenges?

There's no playbook for life in a post-Covid-19 world. Every insurer is dealing with uncertainty around the direction of the economy, where unemployment might head and what that means for New Zealand's GDP. At Suncorp, we're putting our effort into ensuring we've got an agile and sustainable business that can pivot and respond to new opportunities as they emerge.

Is the Insurance Council as effective as it should be in its role in the industry? Is there anything it could be doing better?

Events like Covid-19 have shown how important the council is in helping New Zealanders understand their insurance, and the support available for those experiencing hardship. The council also plays a key role in helping members understand what regulatory change means for operational practice. Looking ahead, I think there's opportunity for insurers to build on consumer awareness about insurance through the support they offer customers. 

Why do you value your involvement with ICNZ?

I've been on the council's Board for five years now. I'm there because I value the diversity of thought around the table. Every major general insurer is there, from the likes of AIG, Tower, IAG and Suncorp, through to FMG, the Medical Assurance Society, reinsurer Swiss Re and specialist providers like Chubb, Hollard and AA Insurance. The council provides a very effective industry voice into government and regulatory discussions, and it does some outstanding financial education work with both young and vulnerable New Zealanders. 

What are your goals for ICNZ over the next couple of years? 

I want to help the ICNZ in supporting New Zealanders through the recovery period following lockdown. Helping customers maintain appropriate levels of cover will be important in getting the economy back on its feet. I'm also very interested in helping the ICNZ develop a robust future claims model in partnership with the EQC for earthquake and flood damage. This is vital to ensure customers are appropriately supported in what can be a time of extreme stress.

June 2020

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