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Welcome to Statewider – Business & Entrepreneur News

Statewider is a new site presented by Statewide Insurance Brokers, encompassing all things Business and Entrepreneurship.

We look forward to sharing with you our favourite Business and Entrepreneurship articles throughout 2018 and beyond, helping you take your business game to the next level.

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10 Insurtech Trends for 2018

 

The insurance industry and technology are no strangers to each other. And yet the industry has not been considered a leader when it comes to the application of technology.

That is until now.

The emergence of InsurTech as an agent of change has reshaped the strategic agenda.  The Digital Insurer takes a look at some of this technology and the change sweeping the Insurance landscape…for 2018 and beyond.

Read Here

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Allianz Insurance – CEO Interview

On March 10 of this year, news broke that Niran Peiris, managing director of Allianz Australia, has been appointed to the board of management of the global Allianz Group, effective from 1 January 2018.

It was announced that Peiris, who has been with Allianz Australia for 16 years, will assume responsibility for the property and casualty businesses in the group’s Anglo markets (which include Australia and New Zealand), the Global Insurance Lines (for example, Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty), Russia and the group’s commitment to environment, social and governance. According to Allianz, work has commenced appointing his successor in Australia, with Peiris to continue in his current role until the end of the year.

Insurance Business Magazine had the good fortune to meet Peiris in his Sydney office to discuss Allianz Australia’s recent progress. Reflecting on major wins for the business, he cites the 2014 acquisition of the general insurance business of the Territory Insurance Office from the Northern Territory government, as well as Allianz’s partnership with Westpac General Insurance in 2015, under which the bank began sourcing products from the insurance giant.

Additionally, Peiris mentions the opening of the South Australian CTP market, at which time Allianz became one of four CTP insurance providers in the state.

He also discusses the biggest challenges the business is facing in the Australian market right now. He refers firstly to the soft state of the commercial market.

“While it’s recovering, I don’t see it recovering quickly, and I think that’s an indicator of capacity that we have around the world,” he says.

“Secondly, I think low interest rates continue to be challenging for any financial services organisation, particularly general insurers because you’ve got to price to your interest rates, and when interest rates are very low, of course, your price has to be much higher than you otherwise would have.

“I think that’s a pressure on us all, and we don’t see interest rates moving up dramatically in the near future, and so that pricing pressure will remain.”

The regulatory landscape is also an important factor to Peiris.

“I think the move of regulators, particularly towards customer advocacy, is a big change and something that I think the whole financial services industry is adapting to at the moment,” he says.

 

Tomorrow’s industry

Talking talent in insurance, Peiris opines the industry needs to do a far greater job of making jobseekers appreciate the intellectual challenge associated with careers in insurance.

“The intellectual challenge is trying to price something that you really don’t know the cost of,” he explains.

“You’re taking very educated guesses at that cost. There are very few industries like ours, where you really don’t know the cost of your product on the day you sell it, because it’s subject to weather events or whatever that you’re trying to cover. And I’ve found that quite stimulating over time.

“If you think about … a message to people who are smart, young [and] motivated who might be attracted into the industry, rather than have them fall in, try to show them that [challenge]. I think that’s something that we’ve been trying to do more of through, particularly, our graduate induction program, going out to campuses and showing people that, but also generally through our employee value proposition, to try and help people understand that there are exciting, rewarding careers with interesting jobs, now particularly around data, that will attract young people.”

On the subject of data, Peiris talks about the evolving role he foresees for data and analytics in insurance in times ahead.

“Insurers have been using data for a long time to rate properly. The thing that I think has to change is more customer overlay on top of that data, because the data that we use at the moment really is portfolio by portfolio, and we look deeply down into those portfolios and we’re trying to balance the pool that we have,” he says.

“I think we can get better customer data that enables a better rating and risk selection, and then, secondly, better customer data to make sure that we’re offering them the right thing at the right time – both of which I think the insurance industry is developing.”

 

Investing in the future

Peiris says Allianz has a significant focus on data and analytics, both at a local and at a global level.

“We’ve invested quite heavily in data science, in machine learning and all those things that you need to do to be a big data company, going forward,” he says.

Discussion turns to insurtech and the associated threats and opportunities.

“I think as with any new competition emerging from left field, you must always pay attention to them, because what emerges from left field is always something that can be a major threat to you in years to come,” he says.

“In engaging, what we need to continue to be good at is risk selection and pricing, and the investments in that side of insurtech are very interesting to us. We’ve invested significantly at a global level and here in data scientists and in analytical tools so that we can better refine our rating models.

“I think, also, engaging with insurtech is important and our Allianz global colleagues certainly have investments with various insurtech companies.”

On other recent developments in Allianz Australia, Peiris discusses its enhanced commercial packages online platform.

“We’ve launched our SME platform, Allianz Alive, which went live towards the back end of last year and is now fully up and running … [it’s] a major refresh of our SME offering – which is very important to brokers and really important to us … and we continue to refine that as time goes on and innovate further,” he says.

“If we look at our tailored solutions business – again, a big strategic push of ours – we’ve restructured our entire team behind the scenes here so that we have a very focused underwriting capability and distribution capability for risk underwritten business, offer and acceptance business that isn’t SME and is smaller than big-end corporate stuff that we’re doing. And then, finally, when we look into rural and regional as well, we have a significant push into farm, and the farm pack offering will commence towards the back end of this year, which is a fully automated farm offering, which will be part of the overall strategic fit with us for rural and regional.”

 

A diverse workforce

Inside the organisation, Allianz Australia’s efforts to enhance the diversity of its workforce have been recognised externally for some time.

In December, its ongoing work to improve gender diversity in the business was acknowledged for the eighth consecutive year by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, which awarded Allianz an employer of choice
for gender equality citation. Allianz was one of only two general insurers to receive this acknowledgment.

“Diversity is strategically important to us, because we’ve said for a long time it’s just good for business. It helps us think more broadly and to understand our customers better if we are a more diverse bunch inside this company,” Peiris says.

He says diversity has been a focus of the business during his time as head of Allianz Australia.

“Through that focus, we try to then encourage the drivers of diversity, whether it be through selection, training and development of our people, or things like flexible working conditions.”

Peiris emphasises the importance of accountability for efforts on the diversity front.

“I think it’s really important that you hold yourself accountable,” he says.

“We’ve set up targets internally. They’re aspirational, but we basically say we want to achieve a certain level of female representation in senior management ranks by 2020, and we’ve been working our way through to that and I’m quite pleased with the progress we’re making at the moment.”

People change, Peiris says, is the biggest change happening internally at Allianz Australia.

“When you look at our organisation and how we grew up, necessarily we were quite a traditional hierarchical system. As we grow – we’re now $4.6bn in turnover in terms of GWP – our aspiration is to be much bigger still. You need to change the way the company goes about doing its business and you need to devolve decision-making.

“For that, we’ve got a strategy around a workforce for 2020, which looks at how we recruit people and the types of people we’re recruiting, and that’s where diversity comes into it as well. Secondly, [we’re looking at] how we get them through the organisation, in terms of their development, and, thirdly, how we then get them into those senior management roles that are necessary in a diverse talent base that recognises the challenges of the future.

“We say we would like to have the best workforce that’s able to deal with all those challenges in the future, and have the right skills and capability to achieve it.”

Peiris continues: “That, I think, is a huge change … you can always do a project, but cultural change takes a lot of effort and it’s something I personally lead. I think it’s something that we need to have necessarily in order to have different ways of making decisions that aren’t reliant on hierarchy.”

The year ahead

Key priorities for Allianz Australia in 2017 – Peiris’ last year as MD – centre around the continued execution of its strategic plan.

“We had a strategy approved in 2015, and year one of implementation was 2016,” Peiris says.

“The plan really focuses on a few things: firstly, what I would call a focus on the end customer. We have previously always looked at our intermediary partners as the way we grew, so we acquired intermediaries and we grew that way, and as a result … we have significant market shares in motor car dealers and [financial institutions].” But we really haven’t focused on their end customer base. A lot of the work that’s going on in systems and in process is to look at how we get to the end customers together with our partners – or indeed the end customers directly when we have our direct business – and look at them in a way that we understand them better and, therefore, they’re more likely to buy more product from us and/or stay with us for longer.

“A lot of work is going into that. It’s a threeyear program, and implementation will take some time to carry through. As I said, we’re one year into that three-year program and so far, so good.”

Article Reproduced from Insurance Business

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100 Insurance & Business Articles to Enjoy

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Building Cladding & Fire Risk

Insurers back national cladding probe after UK disaster

 

Australian insurers are backing a national survey of buildings using flammable cladding in the wake of the devastating blaze that killed at least 58 people in London’s Grenfell Tower.

Experts have warned the disaster could be replicated in Australia, and the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) says a national survey is needed “before tragedy occurs”.

Witnesses say last week’s fire in the inner-London suburb of Kensington raced up the tower block’s exterior, fuelled by combustible cladding that was added to the 1970s structure last year.

The cladding is thought to be similar to that blamed for the rapid spread of a major blaze at the Lacrosse apartments in Melbourne’s Docklands in 2014.

Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne moved last week to reassure residents that Australia’s strong building codes mean a similar tragedy would not occur here.

But experts disagree, saying the prevalence of flammable cladding here remains a serious threat to life.

Following the Lacrosse fire, the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) audited 170 Melbourne CBD buildings and found 51% featured non-compliant cladding.

Many of these buildings were deemed safe to occupy, and even the Lacrosse building retains its original cladding as legal arguments continue over who should pay to remove it.

The number of buildings with such cladding in other cities – including Sydney – is unknown, although an audit of Adelaide buildings has been announced since the Grenfell disaster.

One of the arguments in Australia’s favour is that buildings more than 25 metres tall must have sprinkler systems installed.

The 24-storey, 70-metre Grenfell Tower, which was insured by Norwegian insurer Protector Forsikring, had no sprinklers and only one stairway exit for 120 homes.

But FM Global Australian Operations Chief Engineer Andre Mierzwa advises that while sprinkler systems are a huge benefit, “they can be overtaxed”.

“I took a walk down the [Melbourne] Docklands and at least 50% of buildings have this [combustible cladding] on them,” he said.

“We still need to have a close look at these buildings, and we are not out of the woods yet for a similar sort of fire.”

FM Global, which deals only in the commercial space, carries out its own testing of materials and risk assessments.

But Mr Mierzwa believes most insurers of residential apartments would not know which type of cladding has been used on buildings.

“They would have to do a lot of digging to find out what the product is,” he said.

He also believes a claim could be denied if a building is discovered following a fire to be non-compliant with the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and it can be argued the owner “deliberately withheld information”.

He believes the pressure will now be on to remove cladding in Melbourne and across the country.

“But it will cost millions and millions of dollars,” he said.

Fire Protection Association Australia CEO Scott Williams advises the London tragedy could easily be repeated here.

“The BCA is a minimum code, and when a building doesn’t reach that we have a problem,” he said.

“Any building that has this combustible cladding poses a very strong risk that what happened in London could happen here.”

He says there is a clear discipline issue within the building industry. “There is unscrupulous behaviour and substitution of product to save a few dollars.

“There needs to be greater auditing, and greater enforcement with consequences for individuals who breach the rules.”

He believes cladding could be just the tip of the iceberg.

“What about the thousands of other products going into buildings? Are we talking about widespread non-compliance, and [is] our building stock actually in a terrible condition? We just don’t know.

“We have a lot of work to do. The cladding has to come off, whatever the cost, and every building has to be compliant with the code.”

ICA spokesman Campbell Fuller says Australian insurers are “acutely aware” of the dangers of inappropriate materials and the need for strict compliance with the BCA.

“Many insurers inspect high-rise buildings prior to agreeing to underwrite them, and also rely on compliance testing carried out by certified professionals experienced in the management of fire safety codes,” he said.

“If insurers become aware of new information that alters the risk profile of a building, they may choose to reassess their premiums accordingly. Evidence that an insured building is non-compliant with building codes has the potential to complicate the claims process.

“If policyholders become aware of information that materially alters the level of risk they face, they are obliged to notify their insurer.

“Insurers would support a national approach to surveying buildings that use these products to ensure any issues can be identified and rectified by owners before tragedy occurs.”

Article reproduced from Insurance News

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Insurance Report June 2017

  • ENDANGERED PROPERTY RISK PUTS BANKS UNDER SPOTLIGHT
  • IAG PICKS UP $1 BILLION OF REINSURANCE COVER
  • BRET TAYLOR REMINISCES ON THE INDUSTRY’S EVOLUTION
  • CANTERBURY EARTHQUAKE CLAIM PAYOUTS PILING UP
  • HAVE YOU NAILED DOWN YOUR SUCCESSION PLAN?
  • ALLSTATE CEO LANDS NEW POSITION
  • WHY INSURERS ARE TURNING THEIR BACKS ON DUBLIN
  • WHAT DO VMIA REFORMS MEAN TO BROKERS
  • STEADFAST GROUP ACQUIRES STAKE IN UNISON BROKERS
  • INSURANCE OPPORTUNITY IN WAKE OF WANNACRY
  • SURVEY REVEALS “WORRYING” CONCERN OVER HOME AND CONTENTS
  • WHY MAINTAINING PROPERTY COULD COST KIWI HOMEOWNERS LESS
  • ZURICH LAUNCHES NEW CLAIMS TOOL
  • AIG GIVEN NEGATIVE OUTLOOK
  • FAR OUT FRIDAY: GROPING INSURANCE SEES SPIKE IN SALES
  • BROKERS NEED TO BE PROACTIVE ON TERRORISM RISK
  • ACCC TOLD TO MOVE STAFF NORTH TO MONITOR INSURERS
  • XL CATLIN ANNOUNCES GLOBAL PROPERTY INSURANCE CAP INCREASE
  • TWENTY INSURERS REVEALED ON FORTUNE 500 LIST
  • CEO ELON MUSK URGES TESLA OWNERS TO SWITCH INSURERS
  • INSURANCE TRANSITIONS IN JUNE
  • BEAZLEY REVEALS RAPIDLY GROWING LEVEL OF DATA BREACHES
  • EL NIÑO COULD FORM BY SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR – BOM
  • INSURERS GETTING MORE ANXIOUS ABOUT CYBER RISKS – SURVEY
  • UNDERWRITERS HAVE AFS LICENCE CANCELLED
  • SEVERE WEATHER SEASON MEANS PLANNING FOR CATS AND DOGS
  • INSURERS FACE $3 BILLION PAYOUT FOR SEVERE WEATHER IN MAY
  • WHY BROKERS SHOULDN’T GIVE UP TOO QUICKLY
  • INSURANCE MARKETING AND PR AWARDS 2017: WINNERS
  • THIS WEEK IN FINANCE: TECH STOCKS GET THE WOBBLES, FED TO LIFT RATES AND JOBS DATA OUT
  • CHINA SEEKS NEWS INFLUENCE THROUGH AUSTRALIAN MEDIA DEALS
  • 5 ACTIONS THAT DON’T FEEL LIKE MARKETING
  • WHY SUPERANNUATION FEES ARE SKY HIGH
  • CEOS SLEEP ROUGH FOR A GOOD CAUSE
  • SEED FUNDS FOR SOCIAL IMPACT
  • PASSIVE INCOME BUSINESSES: DO THEY REALLY EXIST?
  • HOW TO MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WORK-LIFE BALANCE
  • DON’T FALL FOR THIS TRADING TRAP (DO THIS INSTEAD)
  • THE NOT SO SEXY SIDE OF SUCCESS

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Cyber Attacks Revealed

A recent survey has revealed that 90% of Australian organisations have faced some sort of cybersecurity compromise during the 2015-16 financial year, highlighting the need for cyber insurance to avoid massive financial losses from a cyber attack. The survey by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) polled 113 organisations, 90% of which claimed to have experienced some form of attempted or successful cybersecurity compromise. Full article found in Risk Management Magazine

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Virtual Reality Shaping General Insurance

Virtual Reality (VR) could shape the future of general insurance says third party claims expert Peter Tomkins.

“Traditionally, the biggest challenge insurers face is understanding risk. Modern technology has come a long way to address this need – insurers are now using car monitors to understand driving behaviour , and Fitbits to understand a client’s health . VR is another powerful tool that an insurer can use to fill in their understanding of a risk profile,” says Tomkins, General Manager, Specialty Markets at Gallagher Bassett.

Full article found at Insurance and Risk 

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5 Business Growth Ideas

Article by Macquarie Business Banking

Statewide’s long-term banking partner Macquarie, takes a look at 5 areas to consider before you disrupt your industry

Disrupting your industry means challenging the status quo while offering something much more than change.

Disruption can come from anywhere and in this technology-filled world where everyone can access the latest information, the size of a business doesn’t necessarily reflect its ability to disrupt. Before you start you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who are you doing it for?
  • Do you have 100% employee/investor buy-in?
  • Are you ready to think outside the box and bigger?

With these questions in mind, and the following tips, Macquarie wants to help you realise your potential and seize the opportunities for growth.

1. Embrace the power of the idea

It’s time to relinquish the long-held belief that the most important factor, when making major changes, is the business behind you.

When you explore new opportunities it’s wise to take into account the prospects for enhancement or reinvention that may already exist and areas of your business that you could improve.

Small players can think big and, thanks to innovations such as crowdfunding, the cloud and client reach through social media, they can effect very valuable disruptions for a fraction of the cost.

2. Set new benchmarks in customer experience

The digital era means the way services are delivered to customers has fundamentally changed in almost every sector.

Take advantage of the tools at your fingertips. Identify what your customers are looking for in your industry, where they occur in the user journey and then use digital pathways to eliminate them.

Find ways to simplify, streamline and enrich the customer experience and you are likely to cement customer loyalty. It could be as straightforward as rethinking the way you communicate with your customers for follow-ups and servicing.

Take advantage of the tools at your fingertips. Identify the customer pain points in your industry, find out where they occur in the user journey and use digital pathways to eliminate them.

3. The rise of digital devices

The ever-emerging network of digital physical objects and advanced connectivity is taking communication beyond computer-to-computer interactions.

According to a market forecast from ABI Research, by 2020, the number of devices connected to the internet is expected to exceed 40 billion. And that’s just the start.

We are already seeing technology such as smart thermostat systems in washer/dryers that can facilitate remote monitoring via Wi-Fi. Soon, embedded devices, such as built-in sensors in transportation and medical equipment, will collect and autonomously transmit data between other devices.

This is the beginning of automation in nearly all industries and fields.

4. Capitalise on new technologies and collaborations

Nothing invigorates a disruption like a fresh approach.

Whether that fresh set of eyes comes in the form of emerging technology, or it’s the acquisition of new skills and experience, reaching out in this way can change ‘What if?’ to ‘Why not!’ for your business.

Think about 3D printing and the drones for B2B delivery. These technologies may enable the creation and delivery of a wide range of physical items quickly, cheaply and potentially with a reduced impact on our environment.

5. Reinvent your culture

Effective disruption cannot happen in a company culture that does not foster and celebrate innovation.

Encourage networking, transparency, the sharing of ideas and, perhaps most importantly, the ability to take strategic risks. Providing a safe space for employees to test, learn and revise is crucial to originality and improvement. Empower your people.

Planning on growing your business and disrupting your industry? 

Talk to us at Statewide to discuss your risk management needs for your business.