2023, a year in stories
The insurance industry never stands still, and while the year hasn’t been as turbulent as others in recent times, the team of journalists at insuranceNEWS.com.au has written about 3000 news articles during 2023.
Here we look back at the top 10 most popular articles viewed on our website over the past 12 months. Often the most clicked on stories are our Breaking News updates. But not always – there are some surprises too.
Enjoy the recap, and get set for many more news updates in 2024.
Our most popular story of the year was the announcement from Catholic Church Insurance (CCI) that it would cease issuing new or renewal policies and voluntarily place the organisation into “run off”.
“The CCI Board and management deeply regret that it has been necessary to make this decision and would like to assure all staff, policyholders and suppliers that it has sufficient assets to meet its commitments as they currently stand,” Chairman Joan Fitzpatrick said.
The organisation’s website says the group has served the Catholic community since 1911 and is one of the oldest insurance companies in Australia.
Ex-IAG employee loses unfair dismissal case over WFH inactivity – July 25 2023
insuranceNEWS.com.au was the first to report on this story about a former IAG employee whose laptop was found to have only minimal keyboard activity when she worked from home and lost an unfair dismissal case against the insurer.
The employee, who spent almost 18 years at IAG, sought compensation after she was dismissed on February 20 from her role as Consultant Outbound Comms Disclosure.
Fair Work Commission Deputy President Thomas Roberts said aside from recent months, there was nothing to suggest she had been “anything other” than a valued employee since starting at IAG in 2005. However, he ruled her dismissal this year was based on a valid reason.
Our article was followed up by news outlets around the world – probably because it taps into employee fears of being monitored while working from home.
The pending departures of IAG CFO Michelle McPherson and Chief Insurance and Strategy Officer Tim Plant was our third most popular story of 2023.
Ms McPherson joined IAG as Acting Group CFO in April 2020 and was appointed CFO in November that year. Previously, she was CFO and Deputy CEO for Nib Holdings.
IAG said Mr Plant would be leaving as the company consolidated its group functions to better support its operating businesses: Direct Insurance Australia, Intermediated Insurance Australia, and New Zealand.
Another day, another Steadfast acquisition – but the purchase of a 70% equity interest in Queensland underwriting agency Sure Insurance attracted significant reader interest.
Group CEO Robert Kelly said the company is continuing to pursue “highly attractive acquisitions” that are complementary to the existing portfolio and further enhance Steadfast as the largest general insurance broker network and largest group of underwriting agencies in Australasia.
“We look forward to partnering with the Sure Insurance team to continue providing unique solutions to the market in regional Queensland and Sure Insurance’s continued geographic growth,” he said.
AIG names new Australia CEO – July 21 2023
Local leadership announcements are always popular with readers, and AIG’s appointment of Grant Cairns was no exception.
Mr Cairns, formerly of Chubb, was appointed CEO AIG Australia, and Head of Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), based in Melbourne and the change took effect from November.
The appointment came after former AIG Australia CEO Nigel Fitzgerald departed earlier this year to join Steadfast as COO.
The insurance industry has been campaigning for more than a decade to get rid of this inefficient and unfair tax – so it’s no great surprise this significant development was one of the year’s most-read stories.
The NSW Labor Government said the state’s insurance-funded Emergency Services Levy (ESL) is unsustainable and it plans to ditch current arrangements and introduce a fairer system.
“Reforming the Emergency Services levy is not easy, but it’s the right thing to do,” Premier Chris Minns said.
Cover-More claims officer jailed after admitting long-running fraud – August 18 2023
People doing things they shouldn’t tends to spark reader interest, and so it was with this case of a former Cover-More claims officer who was jailed for five years after admitting defrauding his employer of more than $220,000.
Zachary Clark, 45, was sentenced at Brisbane District Court in August, having pleaded guilty to “dishonestly gaining insurance claim payments” for himself and others between July 16 2019 and October 25 2021.
The court heard that over more than two years Clark purchased 159 travel insurance policies using 156 fictional identities, and then submitted 204 claims for cancelled travel, overseas medical expenses, and lost or damaged luggage. He sometimes created fraudulent documents to back up the claims.
It’s more about banks than insurance, but the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) rejection of Suncorp’s plan to sell its banking business to ANZ in a proposed $4.9 billion deal was still one of the most popular stories.
The insurer said it was "surprised and disappointed" by the decision and has appealed.
The ACCC said it accepts that ANZ would benefit from cost savings from the proposed acquisition and Suncorp Group would benefit from being able to focus on its insurance business.
But it considers that those benefits don’t outweigh the likely detriments, particularly competitive detriments.
After some significant departures, Marsh announced in September that Josh Roach will become Pacific President from January.
Mr Roach will be responsible for all aspects of the Marsh Pacific operations, which encompasses insurance and risk advisory services across Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
Currently, Mr Roach is Marsh McLennan CEO in New Zealand, President of Marsh New Zealand and Chairman of Marsh in Fiji, while previously he led speciality in the Pacific region. He joined the company in 2009 and led its private equity and mergers and acquisition practice across Asia for three years before moving to Australia.
The final story in our 2023 recap is the Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance (ANZIIF) appointment of former NZ politician Katrina Shanks as its next CEO.
Current chief Prue Willsford is stepping down after a decade in charge and Ms Shanks will take over leadership of the industry’s membership organisation for education and professional standards on January 8.
Ms Shanks has spent the past five years as CEO of Financial Advice NZ, a membership organisation for advisers working across mortgages, insurance, investment and financial planning. A chartered accountant by trade, she was a National Party MP from 2007 to 2014.