Insurance Business Awards Australia 2021

ACHIEVING SUCCESS AGAINST THE ODDS

The insurance industry continued to thrive in the last year, even as the pandemic rumbled on. Its achievements were celebrated and rewarded at 2021’s virtual Insurance Business Australia Awards ceremony, providing a much-needed highlight in another tumultuous year

2021 was undoubtedly another tricky year for the insurance industry as the world continued to grapple with constantly evolving pandemic conditions. In these challenging times, recognising and celebrating achievements has become more important than ever and vital to keeping people motivated and engaged when morale is low. The importance of the Insurance Business Awards was highlighted by 2021’s winners, who told their peers what it meant to them when accepting their awards at the virtual ceremony.

Winner of Young Gun of the Year – International Taylor Burstow of Willis Towers Watson said, “It's an honour and a privilege to be named Young Gun of the Year – International for 2021. This is the highlight of my career and a real stepping stone for my future development. I look forward to continuing to represent our industry and work to develop the next generation of insurance brokers.’’

Colin Fagen accepted the award for Blue Zebra Insurance, winner of Best Digital Strategy Insurer. “The team at Blue Zebra is extremely proud to be winning the Best Digital Strategy Insurer. We would like to thank Key Media for that recognition,” he said. “Our strategy is very simple: we talk and we listen to our clients, and we look to build a business that meets their needs, and we look to do that in record time. We look forward to continuing to meet our customers’ needs and continuing to drive our strategy for growth in our business and growth in our customers’ businesses. Onwards and upwards from here!’’

Shielded Insurance Brokers’ Joshua Scutts, winner of Broker of the Year (20+ Staff), said, “First let me say a huge thank you to the team at Shielded Insurance brokers. It's their drive and hunger that inspired me to want to be great and continue to innovate our industry. I'm extremely honoured to be receiving such an award tonight and grateful to be leading the team at Shielded. It would be great to experience this with you at the gala tonight, but we'll try again next year.’’

It will be time to kick off those slippers when the 2022 awards event comes around. The highly anticipated in-person black-tie gala dinner is scheduled for Friday, 2 September 2022, at the Shangri-La Sydney, by which time, we all hope, the pandemic will be behind us.

Twenty-five awards are up for grabs in 2022 across four categories, including national awards, brokerage awards, broker awards and insurer awards.

Retaining and attracting the best talent
The ‘great resignation’ is predicted to reach Australia’s shores in 2022. This trend swept across the US in 2021, when 35 million workers resigned from their jobs, leaving job vacancies outnumbering the unemployed by three million. Recent research by PwC, which surveyed 1,800 Australian employees, found that 38% of participants are planning to leave their current employer in the next year.

Such statistics mean that businesses across all sectors will need to focus on attracting and retaining talent. Deloitte’s 2022 Insurance Industry Outlook report states that attracting and retaining the best talent, particularly employees with advanced technology and data analytics skills, will be key in the coming months, in an already very competitive job market.

With the pandemic opening up different ways of working, from hybrid to flexible, today’s jobseekers are also looking to secure a better work-life balance. An acceleration of digital advances driven by enforced remote working has been seen across Australia, helping employees become better connected but also blurring the lines between work and home life. The Australia and New Zealand Anatomy of Work Index 2021 report suggests the pandemic has fasttracked Australia’s digital business initiatives by six years.

Wellbeing has also come to the fore and runs a close second to remuneration and reward in PwC’s list of ‘What employees value from an employer’. The Gartner Global Talent Monitor 2020 quarterly survey of more than 18,000 employees in 40 countries found that between April and June 2021 Australians put work-life balance as the number one reason people wanted to join an organisation. Work-life balance also ranked third on the list of motivators for Australians to leave their current employer in the Gartner Global report.

People skills
There’s no doubt that being successful in the insurance industry requires building up successful relationships with both colleagues and clients, whether face-to-face or remotely. Janet Smith from Marsh McLennan was awarded Broker of the Year Specialist 2021.

In the words of her nominator: “Through her leadership, Jane has nurtured and grown talented individuals, and she is a hands-on and easily accessible leader and mentor to many, both within and outside of the insurance industry. Jane is a recognised and trusted risk management expert to many of Marsh’s clients both in the Pacific and globally. Jane’s success at a professional level is highlighted by a high client retention level, continuous growth of the portfolio nationally and in the Pacific, and her position and trust with clients.’’

A key to successful relationships is clear communications. GT Insurance, winner of Underwriting Agency Claims Team of the Year 2021, received the following nomination: “Communication is the key to the service, with GT Insurance keeping both the broker and the client informed throughout the claim process, which is a very stressful time for the client, providing them with clear expectations on how the claim will proceed. When we have had circumstances where the client’s expectations are unrealistic or unable to be met, then GT Insurance management has been willing to get involved and assist in explaining to the client why the outcome has not met their expectations. In conclusion, I believe the claims process offered by GT Insurance is what all insurers should strive for so they meet our clients’ expectations at the most critical point of their insurance experience.’’

The year to come
Uncertainty around what COVID-19 will bring next looks likely to continue into 2022, yet Deloitte’s 2022 Insurance Industry Outlook report found that, despite these concerns, most insurers expect an accelerating economic recovery and additional digital technology investments in 2022. Approximately one third of its survey respondents expect revenues to be “significantly better” next year, given that the demand for insurance is forecast to keep rising globally. Insurers need to find ways to balance technology adoption with maintaining the human touch, according to the report. In a time when insurers are increasingly dependent on emerging technologies and data sources to drive efficiency, enhance cybersecurity and expand capabilities, focus should be on improving the customer experience by both streamlining processes with automation and providing customised service where needed and preferred.

Deloitte predicts several potential economic hurdles lie ahead with the fallout from the pandemic in 2022. They include sustained inflation; sustainability concerns, including climate risk, diversity, and financial inclusion; and rapidly evolving consumer product and purchase preferences.

Data-driven assessment and modelling of risk will continue to shape pricing and enable the Australian insurance industry to operate successfully in a global market, John Donnelly, head of global placement for Asia-Pacific at Marsh, told Insurance Business. Donnelly also considers the delivery of better returns for shareholders to be a key driver for the industry and thinks the challenge will be balancing shareholder demands with client satisfaction. 2022 looks set to hold both challenges and triumphs across the industry.

Insurance Business Awards Australia 2021 Winners

 

NATIONAL AWARDS


AUSTRALIAN BROKER OF THE YEAR

  • Jane Smith, Marsh

 

AUSTRALIAN BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR

 

AUSTRALIAN YOUNG GUN OF THE YEAR

  • Taylor Burstow, formerly of Willis Towers Watson, now with ShieldCover

 

 

BROKERAGE AWARDS


QBE BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR (20+ STAFF)

  • CRM Brokers

 

BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR (6-20 STAFF)

  • allinsure

 

BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR (1-5 STAFF)

 

CHU UNDERWRITING SPECIALIST BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR

  • CCM Insurance Group

 

BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE FROM AN INDIVIDUAL OFFICE

  • allinsure

 

AUTHORISED REPRESENTATIVE NETWORK OF THE YEAR

 

BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE FROM AN INDIVIDUAL OFFICE

  • CPR Insurance Services

 

BEST DIGITAL STRATEGY – BROKERAGE

 

 

BROKER AWARDS


YOUNG GUN OF THE YEAR – INDEPENDENT (1-19 STAFF)

  • Laura Porter, Connect Business Insurance

 

YOUNG GUN OF THE YEAR – INDEPENDENT (20+ STAFF)

  • Nikita Willis, SRG Group

 

AXA XL YOUNG GUN OF THE YEAR – INTERNATIONAL

  • Taylor Burstow, formerly of Willis Towers Watson, now with ShieldCover

 

BROKER OF THE YEAR (1-19 STAFF)

  • Tate Harris, allinsure

 

BROKER OF THE YEAR (20+ STAFF)

  • Joshua Scutts, Shielded Insurance Brokers

 

BROKER OF THE YEAR – SPECIALIST

  • Jane Smith, Marsh

 

QBE BROKER OF THE YEAR - AUTHORISED REPRESENTATIVE

 

AUSTRALIAN YOUNG GUN OF THE YEAR

  • Taylor Burstow, formerly of Willis Towers Watson, now with ShieldCover

 

 

INSURER AWARDS


GENERAL INSURER BDM OF THE YEAR

  • Melissa La Spina, Hollard Commercial

 

UNDERWRITING AGENCIES COUNCIL UNDERWRITING AGENCY BDM OF THE YEAR

 

BLAKE OLIVER CONSULTING AUSTRALIAN GENERAL INSURER OF THE YEAR

  • Zurich General Insurance, Australia and New Zealand

 

UNDERWRITING AGENCIES COUNCIL AUSTRALIAN UNDERWRITING AGENCY OF THE YEAR

 

AAMC GENERAL INSURER CLAIMS TEAM OF THE YEAR

  • Allianz Australia

 

WILBUR UNDERWRITING AGENCY CLAIMS TEAM OF THE YEAR

 

DUCK CREEK TECHNOLOGIES BEST DIGITAL STRATEGY – INSURER

Excellence Awardee

 

BEST COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT PROGRAM – INSURER

  • Zurich Australian Insurance

 

BEST SERVICE PROVIDER AWARD

  • Claim Central

Methodology

NOMINATIONS 
A nationwide call for nominations was conducted from 31 May 2021 to 2 July 2021 using Insurance Business’ print and online channels. Nominations were open across 27 categories. Any individual or company operating in the Australian insurance industry was eligible to submit a nomination, either on their own behalf or for someone else.

RESEARCH 
The Insurance Business Awards team conducted research and drew on knowledge and information gained through Insurance Business’ connections to the insurance industry in order to support and supplement nominations received and ensure that no one deserving of recognition was missed. Excellence awardees were determined from both pools of information.

FINALISTS 
Once the research was completed, excellence awardees were selected in each category (except the three national awards) and notified via phone and email. Excellence awardees were announced in Insurance Business magazine and online.

JUDGING 
The Insurance Business Awards team forwarded the completed excellence awardee submissions to an independent panel of judges comprising insurance industry leaders and senior representatives. Judges were esteemed experts and senior leaders within the industry, and their judgment was impartial, balanced, incisive and fair. Any judge with a conflict of interest in a particular category would have excused themselves from judging that category.

WINNERS 
A simple points system was used to aggregate the judges’ votes, and the excellence awardee with the top score in each category was named the winner.