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Industry urged to target Millennials, Gen Z

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Millennials and Generation Z consumers offer the greatest growth potential for insurers because they will take out more cover as they grow older, research company Roy Morgan says.

Only 40.9% of Gen Z and 79.9% of Millennials have some type of insurance, compared with 90.6% for Gen X, 93% for Baby Boomers and 91.3% for Pre-Boomers.

Older age groups are close to saturation levels for general insurance, the research shows.

“The growth prospects appear to be greatest with the growing needs of Millennials and Gen Z, but at the same time there is a need to retain the customers in the three older age groups,” Industry Communications Director Norman Morris said.

“This is a highly competitive market where many shop around at renewal time, so there is a need to focus on customer satisfaction and competitive pricing.”

Baby Boomers and Gen X account for a combined 57.6% of the estimated total annual premium of $23.3 billion.

Millennials account for 23.1% and Gen Z only 7.4%, while Pre-Boomers hold 11.9%.

Roy Morgan surveyed more than 50,000 consumers in the year to March.

Queensland group aims to reduce marine risk

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Whitsundays broker Maria Dwyer has helped form a group to reduce marine risk in the region.

The MD of Oceanic Marine Risks says in recent months two major recreational insurers have withdrawn from areas north of Hervey Bay.

This prompted formation of the Whitsunday Marine Risk Management Group.

Its first step is to work with insurers and government agencies to develop a code of conduct encouraging commercial crew and recreational boat owners to adhere to best practice in preparing for severe weather events.

“After consulting with the Whitsunday region’s leading marine surveyors and learning from their observations of Cyclone Debbie, we concluded there was no such thing as basic seamanship any more,” Ms Dwyer told

“We have already held discussions with Maritime Safety Queensland and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and are confident they see value in what we are aiming to achieve.”

The group’s steering committee includes Oceanic Marine Risks and representatives from Abell Point Marina, the Whitsunday Charter Boat Industry Association and the Whitsunday Bareboat Operators Association.

Ms Dwyer believes the group may provide a template for other regions.

“There is no reason why our work cannot be used as a pilot for other areas on the Queensland coast, so we are encouraging as many of our northern and southern neighbours to join us in our fight to mitigate marine risks.”

For more information about the group, email

Funding woes put infrastructure top of councils’ risk list

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Infrastructure has topped an annual ranking of local government risks, while cyber jumps to fourth place after entering the list for the first time last year.

Financial sustainability and stability is in second place on the Aon-compiled ranking, followed by health and safety. Reputation, human resources, asset protection, funding, planning decisions and weather round out the top 10.

“Funding squeezes and rate capping, particularly in NSW and Victoria, twinned with rising ratepayer expectations, ensured infrastructure and financial sustainability and stability remain at the top of the list,” Aon says in its report on the survey.

“Health and safety, cyber, reputation and human resources concerns have all leapt higher as councils count the risk and cost of human impact.”

About 86% of survey respondents have made claims in the past year, with trips and falls accounting for 23.94% of the total, followed by storm damage and tree root damage.

Local government insurance is mainly provided through mutual schemes advised by JLT.

But Aon says more councils are looking towards alternative arrangements.

“In 2016 just 9% of the market was not signed up to a mutual scheme; last year that rose to 11%,” it says. “This year heralds a significant shift, with 25% of the market now using or with an intent to use independent brokers, signalling the value they believe can be extracted by a move to commercial insurance.”

JLT last month defended its councils business, noting that of the 54 councils going to public tender or obtaining other quotes during the renewal season last June, only four changed their cover, while 50 continued to receive insurance through the mutual schemes at rates lower than alternatives.

Australian business resilience dips as cyber concerns grow

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Australia has ranked 17th in a global index assessing the resilience of business environments, with cyber exposure and infrastructure quality emerging as concerns.

The FM Global Resilience Index ranking is down two places from last year, well within the six-place move that would be viewed as significant.

But the country’s inherent cyber risk ranking has slipped to 75 from 66 among the 130 countries and territories indexed. Australia is considered a wealthy country that is a natural target as the global potential for attacks rises.

“With the increasing connectivity of devices in the developed world, there is greater capacity for cyber attacks,” FM Global Australia Operations Manager Lyndon Broad told

The infrastructure quality ranking has fallen to 41 from 34 after issues such as SA blackouts, government pressure to keep open ageing power stations and price volatility.

Mr Broad says the Government has set up a cyber-resilience taskforce, while in other areas it has recognised insurance affordability issues for flood and storm-exposed properties.

Renewable energy is also receiving greater focus.

“There are definitely some areas where governments have recognised opportunities for improvement and we have started to make moves in the right direction,” he said.

The index shows the potential for businesses to take their own resilience measures to counter weaknesses in their wider environment.

On political risk, Australia has moved to 17 from 23 due to perceptions of a stable government and low levels of politically motivated violence and terrorism.

The country ranks 15th for natural hazard risk quality and ninth for fire risk quality, supported by strong building codes.

Switzerland and Luxembourg take the top two places in the index, while the US western region ranks 15th, the UK 18th and New Zealand 23rd.

In Asia, China ranks 46th on supply chain risk, while for natural hazard exposure Thailand ranks 54th and India 58th.

“Executives and managers need to understand the environment in each country in which the business has a current or proposed presence, and how it is critical to operational resilience and effective risk management,” Mr Broad said.

Old methods still working for cyber crooks

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Cyber criminals are still wreaking havoc on computer systems using “traditional” techniques, brokers have been warned.

An Emergence Insurance webinar told 1100 brokers and clients that criminals continue to succeed with hacking (involved in 48% of breaches) and malicious software (30% of breaches). Errors cause 17% of breaches and 12% arise from privilege misuse.

Cyber criminals commonly use a mixture of methods, including phishing, to obtain access to insert malware.

The statistics are from the global Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, which examines more than 50,000 claims. Emergence contributed to the report.

Emergence National Head of Sales Gerry Power says the statistics show more education on cyber risk is needed. For example, 15% of staff still click on phishing emails.

“Phishing awareness is an important risk management tool,” he said.

Simple safeguards include restricting administration privileges, requiring three-factor ID for access and always updating software.

Mr Power says cyber event remediation is expensive and the cost will increase now Australia’s notifiable data breaches scheme is in place.

Quake model’s seismic shift may affect loss estimates

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An update to Australia’s earthquake hazard model has more than halved both the number and annual rate of damaging events the country’s east is thought to suffer, and may lead to a significant reduction in insurance loss estimates.

Geoscience Australia’s seismic model update – including changes to magnitude measurements – counts 50% fewer earthquakes on the east coast above magnitude 4.5 or 5 since 1900, according to catastrophe modeller Risk Frontiers.

The revision means a greater number of small and moderate quakes have been recorded.

Nationwide, the largest modelling reductions have occurred in Perth and the fewest in Darwin, Risk Frontiers says.

Hobart storm losses climb as more claims come in

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Insurance losses from floods in the Hobart region this month have climbed to $27.99 million as the clean-up continues.

The Insurance Council of Australia says 4306 claims were lodged by Friday afternoon following the May 11 storms, which brought more than 130mm of rain to the state capital in 24 hours.

It last week declared the event a catastrophe, activating a disaster hotline for policyholders and establishing a taskforce.

Forums will be held in Hobart next month to provide information on making claims, timeframes for recovery and managing issues that may arise, including complaints.

Risk modelling start-up harnesses new tech

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New catastrophe risk modeller Reask has begun operations.

The company, which considers itself an insurtech, is based in Australia and the UK.

“One question we have been (re)asking is how we can maximise use of global climate data to better quantify natural catastrophe risk, and we found our answers from recent advances in the field of machine learning and image recognition,” co-founder Thomas Loridan said.

Dr Loridan was lead data scientist with Risk Frontiers for three years until March, when he left to set up Reask.

Modeller identifies Tathra bushfire pattern

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A much higher percentage of homes were lost within one metre of bushland during bushfires in the NSW town of Tathra than in comparable blazes.

A Risk Frontiers study shows more than 41% of the 65 homes destroyed in the March blaze were within the one-metre zone, compared with about 25% in the 2009 Marysville and Kinglake fires in Victoria, and 31% in the 2011 Roleystone fire in WA.

Apart from the 65 homes lost in Tathra, another 48 were damaged and 1250 hectares of bushland was burned.

About 72% of surveyed homes were within 100 metres of the “bushland interface”.

Half of the destroyed homes were within 30 metres of the interface and 42% were adjacent to classified bushland boundaries.

Newer homes seem to perform better than older homes, the study shows. No homes more than 630 metres from bushland were destroyed.

Flood-prone Brisbane suburbs enjoy sharp price growth

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House prices in flood-prone suburbs of Brisbane have outperformed the rest of the city.

About 95% of the 20 suburbs affected in the 2011 floods have recorded price growth exceeding the city’s 26.7% five-year price benchmark, according to real estate risk rating assessor RiskWise Property Research.

Fig Tree Pocket enjoyed the biggest increase, of 52.7%.

RiskWise CEO Doron Peleg says buyers see the 2011 floods as a one-in-50-year risk worth taking in return for owning a riverfront property.

“After the 2011 floods the perception among property buyers was these areas would be looked at negatively and prices would fall, or at least deliver very poor capital growth.

“But our research has shown the reality is completely different and the demand for them has eclipsed the negative perception.

“This is because these high-flood areas are truly well located on the river, which is in high demand.”

Mr Peleg advises buyers to undertake due diligence, including securing insurance.

“While [insurers] have revised their product offerings and premiums, which no doubt will be quite high, it is still possible to get insurance,” he said.

EQC discovers almost 1000 unreported claims

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New Zealand’s Earthquake Commission (EQC) has revised the number of open claims it is working to settle after upgrading its claims management system.

CEO Sid Miller says an additional 949 claims were not previously included in EQC’s reporting. “This brings the total number of claims to resolve as at May 10 to 3617,” he said.

Mr Miller says although they were not captured in reporting, the claims have been actively managed.

“Eighty per cent of the additional claims have had activity on them this year and I can assure all our customers that their claims will be settled.”

The previously unreported claims were discovered while data was being transferred to its

upgraded claims management system.

“We are disappointed to find that we have under-reported our claim numbers,” Mr Miller said. “The fact this error has occurred is frustrating and further demonstrates the need for us to continue improving our reporting processes.

“We can confirm that no remedial requests or claims were lost and there has been no slowdown in the rate at which we are resolving remedial requests because of this issue. So far this year, we have settled more than 2000 claims.”

The EQC has commissioned KPMG to complete an independent review of data.

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Hollard restructures to ‘better manage growth’

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Hollard has made key executive appointments in a significant restructure to support continued expansion.

It will reorganise into six key market segments, effective from July 1, with executives appointed from within to helm commercial insurance, personal lines and the New Zealand business.

“This is a reorganisation designed to help us better manage growth, as opposed to cutting costs,” Hollard Insurance CEO Richard Enthoven told

“There are no job losses and, in fact, we think the new structure will require us to find and hire new people.

“The changes are designed to have more accountability and transparency across our business.”

Richard Heilig has been appointed CEO of the commercial business, which will include the consolidated SME operations of Hollard Select Brokers, Calibre and BizCover.

The division will also incorporate commercial motor agency partners, Insuret and ATL, which will continue to run as independent, full-service underwriting agencies.

Hollard last year purchased Calibre, which significantly increased its presence in the SME market, making commercial insurance a core strategic component.

Mr Heilig, who has more than 20 years’ experience with the company, will continue as an executive director on Hollard group boards and also lead reinsurance placements.

Paul Fahey becomes CEO of Personal Lines, which will include Hollard Business Partners (HBP) and the travel business, enabling the scale and capability of the retail business to be more widely leveraged across the group.

Bayne Carpenter has been promoted to head HBP, which will have an enhanced focus on personal lines specialist agencies, where Hollard says it has experienced strong growth in recent years.

“A number of our most successful businesses have emanated from this area, including PetSure, which is now the leading pet insurance provider in Australia,” Mr Enthoven said.

Hollard has named Orion Riggs to head the travel business, built over recent years to support white-label distribution partnerships and specialist underwriting agencies.

David Hall will become CEO of Hollard New Zealand.

“In the coming financial year, Hollard will exceed $1 billion in written premium and make further significant gains in market share across all our operations,” Mr Enthoven said.

Chubb rolls out SME offering

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Chubb has extended its broker-distributed business pack product, as it looks to become a significant player in the SME sector.

A year ago the global insurer identified Australia as a priority market for SME growth, and a six-month pilot was established last July, focusing on certain trades.

It was successful, and Chubb has now rolled out its SME platform across most trades. The expanded product covers 16 industry segments and 300 occupations.

Chubb says its business pack aims to provide broad coverage for property and liability exposures.

It includes standard coverage for business interruption, general property damage, public and products liability, machinery and equipment breakdown, theft, money and tax audits.

It also includes protection against cyber and environmental liability.

The product is tailored to Australian businesses with turnover up to $10 million, and is available exclusively through insurance brokers.

Chubb has appointed Matthew Head as SME Manager Australia and New Zealand, based in Melbourne.

“Brokers have been eager for Chubb to expand its offering to the SME segment across more industries and we are pleased to deliver that,” Country President for Australia and New Zealand Jarrod Hill said.

QBE commits to ‘socially progressive’ investment

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QBE has pledged to invest at least $100 million in “socially progressive projects” such as affordable housing, renewable energy and healthcare.

The insurer says its Premiums4Good program takes a slice of premiums to support investments that create positive social and environmental change, at no additional cost to the policyholder.

It is not charity – investments must still generate “acceptable financial returns” ­– but QBE believes the initiative can drive significant change.

It is encouraging other insurers to follow its lead, and the $100 million is expected to increase in future years.

Australia and New Zealand CEO Vivek Bhatia says research shows Australians are increasingly mindful about their investments.

“We look at an investment, we want a return, but know investments can do more,” he said.

“And, fortunately, with more social and environmental investments available, insurance businesses can do both.

“Premiums4Good invests for social, environmental and financial benefit.

“At the same time, this initiative gives our customers and partners comfort they’re helping drive positive change. Through Premiums4Good, we will set aside a growing pool of premiums to achieve both financial and ethical returns.”

Examples of Premiums4Good investments include social impact bonds and green bonds.

The Australian Advisory Board on Impact Investing has welcomed QBE’s commitment.

“Premiums4Good signifies a progressive step for the insurance industry,” Chairman Rosemary Addis said. “The initiative highlights the growing trend of institutions making investment choices based on their impact on society, as well as financial performance.”

CBL stays in administration with creditors deadlocked

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Creditors of CBL Corporation will meet again no later than July 2 to decide the New Zealand insurer’s future, after last Friday’s meeting ended in a voting stalemate.

Voluntary administrators Brendon Gibson and Neale Jackson of KordaMentha adjourned the meeting after failing to secure enough support for their proposal of liquidation.

“The administrators consider this to be in the creditors’ best interests in the circumstances,” they say in a statement.

“The administrators will continue with the actions outlined in the watershed report and also intend to seek directions from the court on the related-party creditor votes.”

Allianz local operation returns to profitability

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Allianz Australia made a first-quarter operating profit of €58 million ($91.8 million), results from the German parent company show.

The operation ran at a €15 million ($23.7 million) loss in the corresponding period last year.

The turnaround was driven by improved loss and expense management, which offset a decline in gross written premium (GWP) to €717 million ($1.14 billion) from €778 million ($1.23 million).

The loss ratio fell to 71% from 81.8% and the expense ratio to 25.5% from 26.7%.

Premium earned decreased to €636 million ($1 billion) from €695 million ($1.1 billion).

The combined operating ratio improved to 96.5% from 108.5%.

The German insurer’s property and casualty arm made an overall operating profit of €1.27 billion ($2.01 billion) in the March quarter, up 1.2%.

Net income increased 24.3% to €1.07 billion ($1.69 billion), and GWP gained 1.1% to €17.9 billion ($28.34 billion).  The combined operating ratio improved 0.8 percentage points to 94.8%.

Group-wide net income grew 6.8% to €1.94 billion ($3.07 billion).

Blue Zebra secures financial services licence

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New underwriting agency Blue Zebra, which aims to bring personal lines back to brokers, has obtained its Australian financial services licence.

The company, which is underwritten by Zurich, is running a pilot before going live, and an SME offering is planned to follow soon after personal lines.

Blue Zebra CEO Blair Nicholls told feedback from brokers has been strong.

“Brokers particularly like the fact most of the data is pre-populated,” he said. “And being a pure broker offering really does add value.

“There is massive discontent over channel conflict in the market.”

Work starts on new Zurich HQ

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Development of Zurich’s new Australian headquarters – a 25-storey tower at 118 Mount Street in North Sydney – has started.

The project will be delivered by construction firm Roberts Pizzarotti and has been developed in conjunction with real estate companies White & Partners and Generate Property Group.

A six-storey complex is being demolished to make way for the new building, and staff will move in by late 2020.

Zurich Life and Investments Australia CEO Tim Bailey says it is a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to develop a workplace tailored to the needs of our people and our customers”.

Sydney insurtech teams with Euler Hermes on trade cover

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Insurtech Factfin has partnered with Allianz-owned trade credit insurance company Euler Hermes to develop a platform to better assess businesses’ default risks.

Factfin founder Paul Reynolds says the platform will particularly benefit Australian SMEs that want to move into exporting but need a safety net in case they are not paid for goods and services.

“Until now, many of these businesses were taking a leap into the unknown, because the data and the data analytics is not there to correctly price an insurance product,” he said.

The platform uses the Euler Hermes global customer base alongside the Factfin analytics tool to deliver real-time, detailed credit default risk analysis on tens of millions of businesses.

“Euler Hermes is looking to harness and drive innovation right across the world,” Oceania CEO Chris Doube said.

“We have recognised that the Factfin risk analytics platform provides significant additional value to our product offering and therefore we are keen to cement this partnership.”

Factfin is based at Sydney’s Stone & Chalk fintech start-up hub.

CBA jumps on board with Cover-More

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Zurich-owned travel insurer Cover-More has teamed up with the Commonwealth Bank to cover credit card and retail customers.

Cover-More will exclusively provide travel insurance included with eligible credit and debit cards, plus the CommBank website, app and banking portal NetBank.

Cover-More recently acquired Latin American travel businesses operating under the Travel Ace and Universal Assistance brands.

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Regulatory & Government

Industry ‘to blame for trust deficit’

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The corporate regulator has told the financial services industry it is responsible for the “trust deficit” it faces.

Evidence heard during the Hayne royal commission has exposed weak internal processes for identifying, reporting and dealing with misconduct, Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) Chairman James Shipton says.

While ASIC and other regulators play important roles as industry overseers, financial services companies bear the ultimate responsibility.

“Australia’s corporations, and the finance sector in particular, are suffering from a trust deficit, and this current predicament is of the sector’s own making,” Mr Shipton said.

“And because it is largely of its own making, the sector must be held to account and must take responsibility for its repair.

“ASIC and other regulators have a crucial role to play here, too.

“But, ultimately, trust can only be restored if these companies work root and branch to change their ways… to rebuild their culture from deep within.”

ASIC plans to accelerate and expand its Wealth Management Project, established in October 2014 to examine the conduct of major financial advice businesses.

The regulator is considering ways to build on the program’s enforcement outcomes, including making greater use of external expertise in investigations.

Industry demands end to ‘thought bubble reform’

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Insurers and brokers have called on the Government to rethink its approach to industry reform.

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has told a parliamentary inquiry into business investment that Canberra should work more collaboratively with industry to identify effective solutions to issues.

And National Insurance Brokers Association CEO Dallas Booth says the Government needs to step away from “thought bubble reform”, examine the substance of industry issues and come up with solutions if they are valid.

Canberra has mandated minimum education requirements for financial planners in response to instances of poor advice, but no one has asked if that will stop the problem, he says.

“That’s an example of where the solution doesn’t necessarily address the problem,” he told

ICA’s submission says the process for policy reform is not always conducive to effective or efficient policymaking. And the Government’s method of estimating the cost of regulatory proposals underestimates the impact because it envisages only minor amendments.


ASIC bans bogus broker

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The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has permanently banned Samuel Tessa from providing financial services and engaging in credit activities.

The regulator says he purported to be an insurance broker and misled customers into paying what they thought were insurance premiums between May 2013 and December 2016.

The Melbourne man contravened financial services law, conducted himself dishonestly and is not of good fame or character, the commission says.

Lawyers slam VMIA as sex abuse redress claims denied

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Law firm Maurice Blackburn has criticised the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority (VMIA) for its refusal to cover redress payments for victims of institutional child sexual abuse.

A national scheme, due to start on July 1, provides for maximum payments of $150,000 and has support from the Victorian Government.

But public insurer VMIA, whose clients include the State Government and community service organisations, says its policies will not cover redress scheme payments.

“Redress serves to acknowledge harm rather than meet a legal liability to compensate for damages,” it says on its website.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommended redress payments capped at $200,000.

Maurice Blackburn Abuse Law Principal Michelle James says all insurers, whether public or private, should meet obligations to abuse survivors.

“The VMIA must be held to account for this decision,” Ms James said.

“Taking such a narrow interpretation of its obligation to make redress payments to survivors is completely unacceptable.”

NZ budget funds Canterbury claims tribunal, EQC inquiry

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New Zealand has allocated funding for a tribunal to resolve outstanding Canterbury earthquake residential claims and an independent inquiry into the Earthquake Commission’s (EQC) performance.

Minister for Courts Andrew Little says the tribunal will offer an individually case-managed resolution process and mediation services to resolve unsettled disputes from the 2010 and 2011 quakes.

“This is a vital part of helping people get their claims sorted,” he said. “People have been waiting for years and this is needed to break through the deadlock.”

The new national budget allocates $NZ6.5 million ($6 million) in operating funds and $NZ1.5 million ($1.4 million) to establish the tribunal.

The Insurance Council of New Zealand says it supports initiatives to efficiently resolve outstanding Canterbury claims.

“As long as the tribunals allow for the rules of natural justice, the ability to provide evidence and for significant points of law to be subject to appeal, this could contribute to the resolution of issues,” CEO Tim Grafton said.

The Government says it will soon release terms of reference for an independent public inquiry into the EQC’s performance after the quakes.

“It’s important we get to the bottom of what went wrong, so we are better prepared for future disasters,” Minister Responsible for the EQC Megan Woods said. “We owe it to the people of Canterbury, who have been through so much, to ensure their voices are heard.

“We also need to look at what was done well and what has worked better in the [subsequent] Kaikoura earthquake sequence.”

The inquiry will have the power to compel evidence and hold public hearings, with membership to be announced shortly.

The budget provides operating funding of $NZ800,000 ($732,816) this financial year and $NZ2.4 million ($2.2 million) next year, plus $NZ100,000 ($91,600) of capital.

Safety options mooted for automated vehicles

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The National Transport Commission (NTC) has released options for a safety assurance system covering automated vehicles, saying recorded data will be necessary to aid insurers and other groups.

CEO Paul Retter says the NTC Regulation Impact Statement will assist in a smooth uptake of the technology.

The NTC is responsible for developing an end-to-end regulatory system for the safe commercial deployment of automated vehicles in Australia by 2020.

Options being studied include the need for the entity behind the driving system having the ability to provide recorded data, as necessary, to parties such as police and insurers.

“To assist with enforcing road traffic laws, automated vehicles should record whether the human driver or [automated system] was in control at a particular time, and the level of automation engaged,” the paper says.

“The vehicle should also record crash or near-miss data to assist insurers and road agencies.”

Four options in the impact statement range from a minimal approach to more active oversight.

The commission’s preference involves a legislated self-certification system, a dedicated regulator, specific offences, compliance and enforcement options, and a “primary safety duty” on technology providers.

The statement proposes 11 self-certification criteria for the driving system and three obligations to manage liability for events such as traffic law breaches and crashes.

The technology provider would need a corporate presence in Australia for liability purposes and should meet minimum financial requirements, including holding appropriate insurance.

Human error and dangerous choices are currently estimated to cause up to 94% of serious crashes. Submissions are due by July 9 and can be lodged here.

Senate committee demands disaster resilience funding commitment

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Senators have urged Canberra to commit long-term to a joint funding program with state and territory governments for natural disaster resilience.

A committee report on climate change raises concerns about the future of the National Partnership Agreement on Natural Disaster Resilience (NPANDR), after the Federal Government provided no funding estimates for 2019/20 and beyond in its latest budget, citing ongoing negotiations.

While new federal funding arrangements for post-disaster recovery are to be implemented from July, Canberra has not indicated whether the NPANDR will continue.

“The committee would consider the conclusion of the NPANDR as premature and urges the Government to further extend this agreement and review the need for it after the new arrangements are well established and data is available on the funding made available for mitigation activities,” the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee says.

Funding for the program next financial year has been cut to $15.1 million from $48.2 million this year. Only three states – NSW, WA and SA – will receive grants from Canberra to address specific natural disaster risk priorities.

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has backed the call to extend the NPANDR.

“Development of effective strategies to strengthen the capability of vulnerable communities to cope with the impact of extreme weather must urgently flow through to significant investments by all levels of government in effective permanent mitigation infrastructure and tightly focused, property-level resilience programs,” spokesman Campbell Fuller told

“ICA hopes a renewed commitment to NPANDR will help prioritise improvements to national mitigation and resilience strategies, which will be considered as part of the new National Resilience Taskforce.”

NZ regulator seeks disclosure ruling on CBL

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New Zealand’s Financial Markets Authority (FMA) has asked the courts to determine if disclosure obligations apply to listed companies in voluntary administration.

The regulator’s action is prompted by CBL Corporation, which appointed voluntary administrators in February and has not provided market updates since.

“The circumstances surrounding the voluntary administration of CBL Corporation have illustrated the legal complexity of ensuring compliance by a listed issuer in voluntary administration,” the FMA says.

“Continuous disclosure is an important feature of a fair, orderly and transparent market.”

Providing updates, even when in voluntary administration, will allow shareholders “to make assessments of the valuation of their holdings and how they may exercise any other rights they have in relation to those holdings”, the FMA says.

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Life Insurance

AMP faces record class action threat as more lawyers file

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Maurice Blackburn and Shine Lawyers have announced plans for class actions against AMP, which now faces five such possible lawsuits over alleged financial misconduct and its effect on shareholders.

A Shine spokesman told the law firm has “already drafted the statement of claims” and aims to have the papers filed today.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and Phi Finney McDonald have filed competing lawsuits against the embattled financial services group.

Slater & Gordon expects to file in the coming weeks, a spokesman told

AMP may be the first Australian organisation to face five class actions.

“The maximum number I am aware of is three,” University of NSW Law Professor Michael Legg told

AMP’s market value has tumbled as investors brace for potentially huge compensation payouts to customers wrongly charged for services they did not receive.

Evidence in the second round of the royal commission on financial services misconduct shows executives lied and provided misleading information to regulators for years.

Risk chief quits AMP advice business

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Pally Bargri has resigned as chief risk officer for AMP’s advice arm, a company spokesman told

Mr Bargri made the announcement on his LinkedIn account.

“I am immensely proud of all that my teams and I have achieved,” his post says.

“And when I think of where I’m personally at, and the energy and commitment the organisation needs from me now, I conclude that I have insufficient capacity to carry through the important task of navigating the days and months ahead.”

MLC backs call for worker rehab role

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MLC Life Insurance has joined its peers in calling for legislative change to let the industry fund medical treatment for injured workers.

Life insurers are currently prohibited from providing benefits under continuous disability policies.

“The longer the wait for rehabilitative medical treatment, the more likely it is a person will be permanently off work,” Chief Claims Officer Natalie Cameron said.

“At the moment, we have customers whose best chance of returning to full health is via timely access to medical treatment, but who for legislative reasons are unable to access it.

“If laws were changed to permit a life insurer the option to fund a portion of medical treatment as part of a program of rehabilitation, all our customers would benefit.”

AustralianSuper and the Financial Services Council have also backed legislative change in their submissions to a parliamentary inquiry into private life insurance involvement in worker rehabilitation.

ASIC seeks feedback on ethics compliance schemes

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The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has outlined plans for approving and overseeing compliance schemes for financial advisers.

A consultation paper on the plans includes compliance scheme approval application processes, scheme governance and administration, and monitoring and enforcement.

“Monitoring and enforcing compliance with the code of ethics is a significant responsibility that will be resource-intensive for the bodies that take on this role,” Deputy Chairman Peter Kell said.

“The compliance scheme framework is key to the successful operation of the proposed code of ethics, which must have the greatest possible influence on the behaviour of financial advisers.”

Financial advisers must meet an ethics code and have their compliance monitored and enforced by ASIC-approved compliance schemes from January 2020.

The changes are part of government reforms to lift industry standards.

The closing date for submissions is June 28. For more information, click here.

Commissions dominate NZ advisers’ pay

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About 43% of authorised financial advisers in New Zealand derived income from commissions in the year to last June.

The Financial Markets Authority information shows 38% received bonuses based on a mix of measures including compliance and quality, 34% were paid a fixed fee or hourly rate and 16% were paid based on volume and set targets.

The regulator’s report is based on authorised financial advisers’ annual information returns.

About 1800 authorised financial advisers were operating last financial year, with 80 joining and 110 leaving during the period.

About 36% provided life insurance advice, which was unchanged from the previous year.

FMA soft commission report raises conflict fears

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Insurers spent $NZ34 million ($31.2 million) on New Zealand advisers through so-called soft commissions over a two-year period to March last year.

Almost half of these non-financial incentives such as trips and sponsorships required the adviser to sell a particular dollar value or number of the insurer’s products, according to a Financial Markets Authority (FMA) report.

“We are concerned that insurers are designing incentives that potentially set advisers up to fail in complying
with their obligations,” the regulator says.

“Advisers are incentivised to sell the insurer’s product, and they need to balance this against achieving the best outcome for the customer, which is potentially conflicted conduct.”

The report is based on data from nine major insurers: AIA, Asteron Life, AMP, Fidelity Life, Nib NZ, OnePath, Partners Life, Southern Cross and Sovereign.

Insurers spent $NZ18 million ($16.5 million) sending advisers on domestic and overseas trips – the most popular form of soft commission.

Foreign destinations included Argentina, the UK, the US and Japan.

Professional development, gift vouchers and Christmas gifts are other forms of soft commission, which are provided in addition to upfront fees.

ASIC bans lying adviser

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Adviser Ezzat-Daniel Nesseim has been permanently banned from the industry.

He engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct, is not of good fame or character and is likely to contravene financial services law, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission says.

The regulator found Mr Nesseim provided backdated client certificates to throw its inquiries off track. He also gave false answers to the regulator while under oath.

Mr Nesseim was an authorised representative of Libertas Financial Planning from last June to this March.

He was executive business financial adviser with Westpac from August 2006 to March 2013 and an authorised representative with Fortnum Private Wealth from June 2013 to last June.

MLC adds mental health to medical advice service

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MLC Life Insurance has expanded its free medical advice service to cover mental health conditions including depression, stress and anxiety.

The Mental Health Navigator is an extension of its Best Doctors service, which offers second opinions from doctors and specialists.

A mental health nurse will guide customers and arrange video consultations with clinical psychologists and psychiatrists if required.

“[The navigator] is a confidential, specialist mental health service that advisers can offer to customers and their families at no cost, and they don’t need to make an insurance claim to use it,” Chief Customer Officer for Retail Advised Insurance Melissa Heyhoe said.

“As a life insurer, we want to ensure our customers are receiving the right help to manage and treat any mental health condition they are experiencing.” 

More than 20% of MLC’s claims management relates to mental health – mostly depression, stress and anxiety.

AIA extends Claims on Wheels program

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AIA Australia will roll out its Claims on Wheels home visit service nationwide following a successful pilot in Victoria.

The free service allows the insurer’s consultants to visit people facing significant health issues at home, to personally assist with the claims process.

The pilot, launched last year, focused on cancer patients, but it has been extended to coronary care, income protection and all other types of claims by policyholders, the company says.

“We aim to make the process of submitting a claim and starting treatment easier, so they can solely focus on recovery,” AIA Australia and New Zealand CEO Damien Mu said.

FPA calls for grant nominations

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The philanthropic arm of the Financial Planning Association (FPA) is calling for members to nominate non-profit organisations for its grants program.

Future2 has given out $823,000 in grants to life-changing projects since 2007.

All applications must be endorsed by a licensed financial planner who is an FPA member.

Nominations close on July 20 and the grants will be announced during the FPA Professionals Congress in Sydney from November 21-23. For more information, click here.

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Industry faces exec skills crunch

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Skilled insurance executives are in short supply, especially those with specialist digital and technology knowledge, recruitment group Hays warns.

“With extensive technological disruption now evident, such as intelligent systems and the automation of complex property assessment, fraud detection and claims verification processes, innovation can be seen across the insurance sector,” Hays Insurance MD Jane McNeill said. “Such professionals can expect a salary increase.”

Demand is also growing for experienced workers’ compensation case managers and senior underwriters, according to the recruiter’s annual salary guide.

Insurers must consider extra incentives such as flexible working hours and training to recruit their choice candidates.

“The retention of senior staff will become a priority for organisations in response to ongoing skill shortages,” Ms McNeill said. “This may lead to salary increases.”

About 19% of insurance professionals expect a pay rise of 6% or more, and 67% view an increment as their top career priority this year.

The 2018/19 salary guide surveyed more than 1200 professionals and 3000 employers.

Dive In festival ‘bigger than ever’

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The fourth Lloyd’s diversity and inclusion festival will take place on September 25- 27, and will expand to include New Zealand for the first time.

This year’s Dive In focuses on turning awareness into action, with the theme #time4inclusion.

Some 16 events will take place across Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Wellington and Auckland.

Lloyd’s Australia has also confirmed that, for the second year running, it will hold an industry diversity and inclusion survey, with the help of Macquarie.

The first Dive In festival in 2015 was restricted to the UK. It expanded globally the following year and last year attracted more than 7000 people across 17 countries and 32 cities.

“The level of enthusiasm continues to grow,” Lloyd’s General Representative in Australia Chris Mackinnon told

“We have spent a couple of years talking – now it is time to actually do something and put some practical steps in place.”

For more information, click here.

NIBA names NSW broker award finalists

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The National Insurance Brokers Association (NIBA) has named three finalists for the NSW broker of the year award.

The contenders are John Duncan from JMD Ross Insurance Brokers, David Michell from The Protectors Insurance Brokers and Kirsty Teer from Aon.

The state winner, to be announced at a gala lunch at the Hyatt Regency in Sydney on July 13, will compete for the national Stephen Ball Memorial Award.

National award winners will be named at the NIBA Convention in Hobart in September.

Suncorp appoints technology EGM

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Chris Robb will join Suncorp in July as EGM Insurance Technology, based in Sydney.

Mr Robb, currently CIO for AMP in New Zealand, is replacing Terry Powell, who has left Suncorp after almost a decade.

Before joining AMP Mr Robb worked as head of technology for ANZ in Auckland.

Technical Assessing names Vic manager

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Loss adjuster Technical Assessing has appointed Steve Mann as State Manager for Victoria.

He joined the company in March as practice leader for property, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Mr Mann has more than 25 years’ experience in the industry, including stints with Cunningham Lindsey, Crawford & Company and LMI Group.

Stone & Chalk appoints GM

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Fintech hub Stone & Chalk has appointed Marie-Anne Lampotang as GM for Sydney.

Ms Lampotang, who joins from BT Financial, will report directly to CEO Alex Scandurra.

“Marie-Anne will play a pivotal role in helping us take our operations to the next level in Sydney,” Mr Scandurra said.

GT announces new WA head

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Heavy motor specialist GT Insurance has appointed Darryl Martin to head its WA leadership team.

Mr Martin, who has 12 years’ industry experience, joined GT in 2015 and has relocated to Perth from Brisbane, where he was national underwriter for plant and equipment.

Before joining GT he spent five years with Suncorp, working in fleet underwriting positions in Brisbane and Perth. He also worked with Zurich for four years.

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Munich Re paints rosy picture on premium growth

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Global insurance premium will grow by more than €460 billion ($722.88 billion) over the next 18 months, Munich Re says.

Average annual premium growth will increase by 5.3%, according to the reinsurer’s Insurance Market Outlook.

The long-term premium growth outlook is even more upbeat, with volume of almost €8 trillion ($12.57 trillion) predicted for 2030 – nearly double the current figure.

Almost one-third of additional premium is forecast to come from China, which is tipped to overtake Japan as the second-biggest insurance market by 2030, recording €1.65 trillion ($2.59 trillion) in premium volume.

While insurtech growth is expected to change the market considerably through product innovation and digital broking, this will not lead to a significant change in premium growth, Munich Re says.

Property and casualty insurance will grow at the same rate as the global economy this year and next, the outlook forecasts.

Commercial rates rise again after long losing streak

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Marsh says commercial rates grew in the March quarter, lifted by gains in property, financial and professional lines.

The rise to 0.89 points marks the second consecutive quarterly improvement on the broker’s Global Insurance Market Index, which improved to 0.888 points in the December quarter from 0.886 points. These gains follow 54 consecutive months of decline.

“Global property insurance prices generally continued to be affected by large catastrophe losses in the third quarter of [last year],” Marsh says.

Pricing for property risks increased 2.7% on average in the first quarter, and rates for financial and professional lines grew 1.8%.

Prices in Australia increased for the fifth consecutive quarter as the composite index surged 11.6%.

“These increases are attributed primarily to market responses to poor underwriting performance in recent years,” Marsh says.

BIBA attacks ‘world’s most burdensome’ regulatory regime

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British brokers have warned the burden of Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulatory reviews is hindering productivity and innovation.

“We contend that our productivity is significantly affected by one of the most burdensome and costly regulatory regimes on the planet,” British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) CEO Steve White told the group’s annual conference in Manchester last week.

“We are calling for a period of stability in the rate of regulatory change, with a pause on the continual influx of new FCA requirements and a focus on proportionate supervision for our low-risk sector.”

Brokers have had to consider 120 review papers in five years, including the 1240-page FCA second consultation paper on the Senior Managers and Certification Regime, he says.

“Seventy per cent of BIBA member firms have fewer than 10 staff and, for them especially, 1240 pages is just too much.”

Mr White also notes the need to keep pace with technological change, and says BIBA is developing a “dating service” to help brokers partner with insurtechs. Prototyping started after a cross-industry innovation group highlighted the problem of finding suitable technology partners.

The service is being developed with insurer Covea, with assistance from Broker Direct, and will be available through the BIBA website.

“The output of this work will benefit both insurtech firms and BIBA members in helping to embed technology-driven innovation within our industry,” Covea Director of High Net Worth and Commercial Lines Simon Cooter said.

Insurers unprepared for climate change risks

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New research shows most insurance companies have not integrated climate change into their risk management practices, nor adjusted premium trends to the increasing frequency and severity of natural catastrophes.

The study by the University of Waterloo in Canada examined data from 178 insurers.

Insurers that ignore climate change will need to raise premium rates or pull coverage from high-risk areas to recoup losses from unexpected claims, the study paper warns.

Co-author Jason Thistlethwaite says many people will lose coverage or it will become unaffordable.

Reinsurers have been better at adapting to climate change risk, rescaling their risk management practices, the study shows.

Mr Thistlethwaite says organisations that best understand climate change will survive.

The study comes after Finity Consulting Principal Tim Andrews warned some insurers may be underestimating climate change-related increases in natural peril costs.

Axa secures financing for XL deal

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Axa has lined up funds for its €12.4 billion ($19.44 billion) acquisition of XL Group after completing the initial public offering (IPO) of US subsidiary Axa Equitable Holdings.

The IPO on the New York Stock Exchange raised $US4 billion ($5.3 billion), of which $US3.3 billion ($4.37 billion) will be set aside for the purchase of the Bermuda-based insurer.

Axa is paying for the all-cash deal from its funds on hand, IPO and related transaction proceeds and subordinated debt.

“Given additional existing additional resources, Axa considers the financing of XL is now secured, because it is not dependent on the issuance of any additional debt,” the French insurance group says.

Axa expects to complete the takeover in the second half of the year.

XL Catlin targets autonomous tech growth

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XL Catlin has established a Global Autonomy Centre of Excellence for the development of insurance products designed for emerging technologies.

“Autonomous technologies are changing the world around us, the way companies operate and the risks they face,” CEO Mike McGavick said.

“Our message to the market is clear – we have significant risk appetite, we have the right people on board and we are all dedicated to becoming the go-to market for autonomous systems trials and pilots.”

The company says it has created an insurance solution for the design, development, testing and implementation of autonomous technology.

The centre of excellence will provide guidance and support to XL Catlin underwriters, brokers and clients, and combines expertise from around the world in analytics, underwriting and claims and risk engineering.

“Many companies have started incorporating autonomous technologies into their operations, in one form or another, be it to move merchandise within a factory or a warehouse or to shuttle staff from a site to another,” Global Chief Underwriting Officer Nancy Bewlay said.

“While there are no two similar uses of autonomy and each requires a tailor-made approach, there is a real need for a structured solution spanning our expertise across multiple classes of insurance.”

Britain considers flammable cladding ban

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The UK Government has begun consultation on banning combustible cladding on high-rise residential buildings.

The move comes after the publication of former health and safety chief Judith Hackitt’s independent review, commissioned following last year’s Grenfell Tower blaze.

More than 70 people died when fire ripped through flammable cladding on the west London building, and similar materials have been widely used in Australian cities.

The Hackitt report says the current system is not fit for purpose, and the Government has announced a series of measures in response.

It will consult on a ban of flammable cladding on high-rise buildings, and will ban desktop assessments if it is not demonstrated they can be used safely.

It will change the law to strengthen the building regulatory system, “with strong sanctions for those who fail to comply”, and restructure fire safety guidance to ensure clarity.

This is in addition to £400 million ($717 million) announced to fund the removal and replacement of cladding on social housing buildings above 18 metres.

“[Grenfell] was a terrible tragedy that should never have happened,” Secretary of State for Housing James Brokenshire said.

“I welcome Dame Judith Hackitt’s comprehensive report and her calls for fundamental reform in the building sector. I am committed to making that happen as quickly as possible.

“The cladding believed to be on Grenfell Tower was unlawful under existing building regulations. It should not have been used.

“I will ensure there is no room for doubt over what materials can be used safely. Having listened carefully to concerns, I will consult on banning the use of combustible materials in cladding systems on high-rise residential buildings.

“We must ensure the tragedy at Grenfell brings change.”

Better times ahead for US commercial lines: Fitch

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US property and casualty (P&C) insurers should enjoy better performance in the commercial sector this year after a rough 2017, Fitch says in a new report.

Commercial lines represent 41% of US P&C net written premium.

Last year the sector reported a combined operating ratio of 104%, deteriorating from 99% in 2016, driven by higher catastrophe losses on property business.

“A return towards historical norms for catastrophe losses and pricing improvements in the worst-performing market segments should move the commercial lines combined operating ratio back to a modest 2018 underwriting profit,” Fitch says.

“Still, competitive factors and loss trends reduce the potential for larger, near-term profits that would correspond with adequate returns on capital for commercial insurers.”

This is a key consideration in the ratings agency’s negative sector outlook for commercial lines, and industry results in commercial motor insurance remain poor.

“Commercial auto insurance remains a chronic problem for underwriters, despite numerous rounds of rate increases and underwriting actions.”

Workers’ compensation was the most profitable major commercial market segment, posting a third consecutive large underwriting gain last year, in what has historically been a volatile segment.

Cyber take-up to rise as SMEs get on board

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AM Best predicts demand for cyber insurance will increase as more businesses accept the threat is here to stay.

Cyber-insurance primary premium written grew 32% and inforce premium gained 24% last year.

“Cyber insurance offers plenty of opportunities for growth, especially among small and medium-sized companies,” the ratings agency says.

“In the short term, despite the inherent challenges in managing aggregations and pricing, we believe the cyber-insurance market presents a positive opportunity for insurers.

is expected to grow due to the accelerating adoption of technology and the increasing awareness of cyber risks, especially among SMEs.”

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Industry reviews: a road to nowhere

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Regulation is the key to a healthy, effectively functioning insurance industry.

Sometimes it is necessary to run a magnifying glass over the industry, to expose problems that need addressing. But an inquiry is only useful if it leads to actual change.

In a submission to the parliamentary inquiry into impediments to business investment, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) had compiled a list of more than 25 inquiries and reviews by federal and state governments and regulatory authorities since 2011, many of which are needlessly repetitive.

For example, the issues around the high costs of insurance in northern Australia has come up in at least eight of the reviews – one of them ongoing.

In some cases, government reviews of the insurance or banking industries are initiated simply due to political pressure to “do something” about an issue. Its relative importance to a smoother economy or consumer advantage isn’t necessarily the dominant cause.

The Hayne royal commission illustrates just how simple-minded some governments can be in assessing public need against political interest.

The royal commission into misbehaviour by “financial services” entities – although the primary target was the big four banks – was labelled “regrettable but necessary” by Treasurer Scott Morrison as the Federal Government reluctantly bowed to public and opposition pressure.

Within days of the first evidence being heard in the royal commission ministers were falling over themselves to perform mea culpas when the extent of corporate misbehaviour was revealed.

In the case of insurance, there’s a belief that governments launch inquiries like the northern Australia mixture to relieve localised political pressure rather than to find solutions. ICA says issues are often picked up, inquired into and dropped once political attention moves elsewhere, and the sheer number of reviews and inquiries is taking its toll.

It laments the considerable time and resources required to compile submissions, attend meetings and respond to data and information requests – costs that are often not considered when assessing the regulatory burden.

To the extent that these reviews and inquiries are partially or wholly duplicative and not genuine attempts to reform the regulatory framework, these costs represent wasted resources that could be invested in business processes and consumer initiatives, ICA says.

In his opening address to ICA’s annual forum in March, CEO Rob Whelan noted reform fatigue has set in.

“At some point we need to pause – to take stock of the cumulative impact of regulatory change, the capacity for the industry to implement the changes and the commensurate increase in costs that may be passed on to consumers,” he told the audience.

ICA is calling for a more considered approach to the introduction of new reviews and inquiries. Attention should be given to past inquiries and their outcomes, and the outcomes of any recent reforms, pending reforms and industry self-regulation.

This would reduce the likelihood of repetitive inquiries, and provide a more strategic approach to policymaking, ICA says.

The National Insurance Brokers Association (NIBA) has also called for a more structured approach to regulatory reform.

CEO Dallas Booth tells the association recognises governments are under political pressure, but it’s critical to properly investigate and substantiate issues first, then present a genuine range of reform options including a cost-benefit analysis.

The responsibility for that lies with the minister in charge, he says.

But there is no sign the Government has listened.

In a speech at the ICA forum – immediately following Mr Whelan’s address –Revenue and Financial Services Minister Kelly O’Dwyer noted the Government has initiated yet another review of insurance affordability in northern Australia, this time overseen by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

The Northern Australian Insurance Premiums Taskforce has already recommended that disaster mitigation is the only way to lower premiums in the region – a finding the Government accepted.

Ms O’Dwyer says the competition watchdog has compulsory information-gathering powers the other reviews lacked.

No one disagrees with the fact there are issues in the industry that need addressing.

But repeated inquiries and reviews that lead nowhere stymie good policy development, delay improvements to regulations and are a waste of everybody’s time.

Major inquiries and reviews since 2011


  • Natural Disaster Insurance Review
  • Review of the economic potential of older Australians (Advisory Panel on the Economic Potential of Senior Australians)


  • Review of strata title insurance price rises in north Queensland (Australian Government Actuary)
  • Consultation on unfair contract terms protections for insurance contracts (Treasury)


  • Inquiry into older workers and Commonwealth laws (Australian Law Reform Commission)
  • Inquiry into volunteers, age and insurance (Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Tasmania)


  • Financial System Inquiry
  • Review of the sale of home insurance (Australian Securities and Investments Commission)
  • Review of strata title insurance price rises in north Queensland (AGA)
  • Review of home and contents prices in north Queensland (AGA)
  • Inquiry into serious invasions of privacy (Australian Law Reform Commission)


  • Review of age discrimination and insurance (Australian Human Rights Commission)
  • Australian Consumer Law Review
  • Inquiry into disaster funding (Productivity Commission)


  • Review of general insurance sold through car dealerships (ASIC)
  • Northern Australia Insurance Premiums Taskforce review
  • Reform to privacy breach notification (Treasury)
  • Introduction of an industry funding model for ASIC (Treasury)


  • Inquiry into general insurance (Senate Economics References Committee)
  • Inquiry into consumer protection in the banking, insurance and financial sector (Senate Economics References Committee)
  • Reforms to the emergency services levy in NSW
  • Review of ASIC’s enforcement powers (ASIC Enforcement Review Taskforce)
  • Inquiry into data availability and use (Productivity Commission)
  • Review of the financial system external dispute resolution framework (Treasury)


  • Inquiry into competition in the Australian financial system (Productivity Commission)
  • Inquiry into the supply of insurance in northern Australia (ACCC)
  • Royal commission on misconduct in financial services.

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