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Acquisitions and appointments: company news wrap-up

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The industry is whirring back into life after the summer break, with acquisitions, appointments and launches announced in recent days.

Zurich unveils three appointments, SME focus

Zurich has announced three appointments to its general insurance leadership team as part of its efforts to strengthen its underwriting and claims capability in the Australian and New Zealand markets.

Alex Morgan starts in May as Head of Retail in Underwriting, returning from Singapore where he is presently Head of Specialty for Commercial Insurance for the Asia Pacific region.

“One of our key strategic priorities is to build on our strong SME position,” CEO General Insurance Tim Plant told

“The new Head of Retail will drive this strategy, which will include evolving our SME offering through product development, approach to pricing and aligned technology platforms so that we can respond to the strategic choices of our key intermediary partners.”

James Dimitriou will join later this month as Melbourne-based Head of Claims General Insurance from IAG, where he is currently Executive Manager for Commercial and Specialty Short Tail Claims. At Zurich his role involves supporting frontline claims teams to deliver on strategy, business plans and results.

Catherine L’Estrange, who has more than 20 years’ general insurance experience, started in November as Head of Casualty and Specialty Claims. She is responsible for accident and health, financial lines, liability, marine, travel and workers’ compensation claims.

Insurance House acquires regional brokerage

Insurance House is expanding its presence in northern Victoria with the acquisition of Shepparton-based O’Sullivan Insurance Brokers.

O’Sullivan’s has been providing advice for more than 40 years and places in excess of $10 million in gross written premium. Its clients range from small domestic and commercial customers to large corporate businesses.

“We have a clear strategy around growing in regional Australia, so this is a furthering of that existing strategy,” Insurance House MD Jay Fereday told today.

“Shepparton has a thriving environment and we are comfortable with the rate of growth and really happy with the profile of the clients.”

Insurance House has more than 200 staff employed across 12 offices and more than 40 authorised partners around the country.

O’Sullivan’s MD Geoff O’Sullivan says the merger will redefine the local insurance landscape and the business is pleased to partner with a major player such as Insurance House.

Mr O’Sullivan will remain with the business in a senior role, with the merger taking effect from February 5.

HDI moves into A&H

HDI Global has appointed Chris McDowell to lead its entry into the accident and health market in Australia and New Zealand.

Mr McDowell, who started today as Underwriting Manager A&H, has 17 years’ experience specialising in the product class. He joins the firm from Accident and Health International Underwriting, where he was most recently national underwriting manager.

HDI Global Regional Market Manager ASEAN and Australasia Willem van Wyk says there is demand for the cover from the firm’s current client base and it is an area offering good opportunities.

“It is a market segment that we believe we can do well in given the strength that we have globally in this area already,” he told “I can definitely see it will grow substantially in years to come.”

Mr McDowell is based in HDI Global’s Sydney office.

New corporate travel insurer launched

A new insurance company aims to use technology to plug coverage gaps in the corporate travel insurance market.

My Trip Insurance (MTI), which is underwritten by Lloyd’s, links with travel agent systems to automatically supply insurance quotes. It already has a partnership with corporate travel alliance CT Partners.

MTI CEO Luke Sawyer says he believes many SMEs don’t properly prepare for business travel risks.

“Unfortunately, many Australian companies don’t understand their legal and moral responsibilities to protect employees who travel and fail to adequately plan for travel related losses,” he said.

Mr Sawyer told the company already has plans to expand into the New Zealand and Singapore markets.