Jump to winners | Jump to methodology
Pioneers of change
Insurance Business has named 50 influential insurance professionals in Australia as the 2024 Hot List, recognising their extraordinary efforts to reimagine the industry.
From over 500 identified nominees, the Hot Listers have emerged as significant contributors in their respective areas of the dynamic insurance landscape. Together, they are instrumental in modernising and transforming the insurance sector by:
embracing innovation and leveraging technology to pioneer new ways of doing business
prioritising satisfaction and experience at every stage of the customer journey
advocating for positive change in public forums
developing the next generation of insurance leaders through mentoring
For two seasoned insurance professionals on the Hot List, emphasising these factors has enabled them to build high-performing teams who share their passion and drive to deliver unparalleled customer relationships, service and solutions.
Angelo Azar – Honey Insurance
Chief operating officer embraces smart tech
The COO aims to inspire positive customer conversations about their insurance policies through technology.
Azar is a crucial member of the senior leadership team at the award-winning insurtech, recognised as Australia’s foremost industry leader in offering home and contents insurance customers innovative solutions. They specialise in in providing smart home sensors designed to prevent:
The company rewards customers with discounted premiums yearly for reducing their risk with smart tech.
“The impact we would like to have on customers is that they see their insurance company as a benefit, not just an organisation they give money to with nothing in return because, typically, only a small number of customers make a claim,” says Azar. “We want to ensure that everybody that has a policy gets some type of benefit because you shouldn’t only get a benefit if you’re going through an unfortunate experience of a claim; that isn’t fair.”
With two decades of experience in insurance and banking, Azar credits his success to:
working with stellar leaders who graciously shared their feedback, which has proved invaluable throughout his career
embracing a mindset that success doesn’t have to come at the expense of others and fostering an environment of teamwork that achieves a better outcome
maintaining an open mind to learning, continuously adapting and growing in a dynamic industry
He says, “Ego is the biggest enemy, and you must keep it in check. That’s what we’re trying to do at Honey; we’re not trying to have one over the customer or our partners. Why shouldn’t we all win? We know that we can.”
By helping customers prevent ever needing to make a claim, Azar is at the forefront of taking what is often a reactive process and building a proactive approach.
“Customers are basically hip to hip with us as an organisation for their benefit, and we’re transparent about this. It’s to our benefit also, and we both win throughout this process,” he says.
“I’m presenting at an upcoming conference and will be the only representative from an insurance company that can say we give complementary technology to customers that helps them take better risks and be less likely to go through a claim”
Angelo AzarHoney Insurance
Jenny Bax – Underwriting Agencies Council
Reinvigorating the organisation’s mandate
As the newly installed CEO, Bax hit the ground running with the rollout of the council’s new three-year strategic plan. She is excelling in advancing its purpose and profile as the provisional body for the underwriting agency sector by:
With the goals of increasing membership, reach, reputation and scale, Bax’s strategic plan positions the council for success in an increasingly crowded insurance market.
Member feedback has been “overwhelmingly positive” on the revitalised approach to proactive communication and transparency.
“It’s been a highlight because it ensures that our members are at the centre of everything we do,” Bax says. “I’ve started to see immediate results from all the hard work, and it’s gratifying when you can see something immediately. Hearing the noise in the market has been great.”
Now with 133 members and 90 business service members and growing, Bax remarks that the underwriting agency space is unique in that it’s comprised of insurance professionals who have left larger organisations because they wanted to make a more significant industry impact.
She says, “They’re nimble, quick and innovative, and they want to pick up the phone and find a solution for a broker and customer, and that bodes well for our members moving forward in the future. The mainstream insurers have a lot of other issues on their plates and don’t necessarily have their eyes on the prize at the moment.”
Bax aspired to become a veterinarian in her early years, but a car accident resulted in severe memory loss. In response, she decided to take on a part-time data entry role in the insurance sector to see how she could manage her head injuries.
“And the rest, as they say, is history,” she says.
Bax seized opportunities with a can-do attitude, and her confidence and people-oriented nature are the keys to her success, alongside:
being passionate about helping people become the best versions of themselves
having no fear about stepping out of her comfort zone and embracing new opportunities
listening to and understanding all sides of an argument
“I want to give back to the industry through mentoring or coaching so I can help nurture the next generation of professionals and make it easier for them to enjoy the rewards and benefits of this amazing industry,” she says.
“I want to help pave the way for women or anyone else in insurance and show them there are many options and opportunities if they’re inquisitive and ready to challenge the status quo”
Jenny BaxUnderwriting Agencies Council
Motivated to make a difference
Drew Schnehage, also a Hot List 2024 winner, emphasises the need to be committed to prioritising customer satisfaction.
“Top performers need to be adaptable and navigate through uncertainties, adjusting their strategies to meet changing circumstances,” says the Innovation Group Australia’s managing director. “Building and maintaining strong relationships with clients, colleagues and industry stakeholders are vital.”
While Azar has undertaken advocacy work for the insurance industry, witnessing first-hand the benefits insurance offers people when a building burns down or a flood picks up their home and places it two kilometres down the road. However, he points out that the world is moving fast, and insurance companies, in general, are not keeping up, perhaps driven by regulatory and technological changes and fear of change.
“At Honey, we’ve got great people, and we started from zero, so the risk is relatively lower than an organisation that’s been around for 100 years,” Azar says. “Our theory is proving true: customers like being with an organisation that not only says they care about them but also demonstrates it through technology or discounts. It’s a sharing of benefits, and there’s true value in the end-to-end experience.”
Advocating for the Underwriting Agencies Council has been a highlight for Bax, where she promotes the expanding opportunities for members who are writing business across every level of the insurance market.
“I think that’s because we found our niches and passion, and the desire for the right outcomes drives us,” she says. “It makes a difference to brokers who value expediency, and the agencies are there for them.”