AILA : Everything you need to know

AILA : Everything you need to know

Headquarters address

4295 Burwood East, Melbourne, Victoria 3151, Australia

Year established                   



Insurance law

Key people (2022)

Cameron Roberts (president), Melanie Quixley (vice-president), Jillian Pancott (treasurer), Scott Duell (secretary), Angus Kench (immediate past president)

Formed in 1983, the Australian Insurance Law Association (AILA) is a national organisation which was initially established to promote, review, develop and debate insurance law on an international scale – however, the non-profit has since morphed to encompass all areas of insurance.

The group holds a national conference on an annual basis while each state also conducts regular events for members, providing a forum for industry professionals to exchange ideas and share insights.

“AILA is an amazing association which started 35 years ago at a time of great change in insurance. The Insurance Contracts Act was about to commence and education was an absolute necessity for those in the industry. This is not dissimilar to today,” said AILA's immediate past president, Angus Kench.

“We will have changes which come from the Royal Commission. There are proposed changes to class actions. Unfair contracts. The list will continue to grow,” he told Insurance Business. “The more people can remain abreast of these changes and in fact help shape the changes, the better.”

AILA: History

The Association Internationale de Droit des Assurances (AIDA), or the International Association for Insurance Law, was formed in 1960 with the aim of increasing industry knowledge of international and national insurance law.

Twelve years later, at the group’s sixth World Congress in London, then-president Simon Fredericq invited Michael Gill and John Hastings to form an Australian chapter of AIDA – both were surprised but willingly accepted. The chapter was inaugurated at that meeting with Gill becoming the first president and Hastings adopting the first secretary role.

The first AILA seminar was then held in Sydney in 1983, launched by Justice Michael Kirby – former chairman of the Australian Law Reform Commission who is responsible for the first major national enquiry into insurance law in Australia.

At the time, AILA had 168 members and the budget for the first seminar was a little over $5,000 – at the event’s conclusion, chairman Michael Gill invited all present to join him at the bar as there were significant funds left over.

Soon after the first event, sister branches in the other Australian capitals appeared with Victoria and WA following immediately after Sydney. A Queensland branch was established in 1986, followed by South Australia in 1988 and Canberra in 1994.

While AILA continued to grow domestically, its international presence also strengthened, and the AIDA conference was held in Australia for the first time in 1994 – marking the first time an AIDA conference had been held outside Europe.

AILA has also played a significant role in helping establish other international branches, encouraging and assisting a string of nations to get involved – including New Zealand, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and the Philippines.

AILA: Brokers

AILA helps brokers by assisting them in staying up-to-date with important industry topics and trends as well as offering educational events and networking opportunities.

“Brokers have an incredibly challenging role. They must help advise and provide security for their clients and engage and liaise with insurers. The good ones do not operate as a post box. They add immense value and become a true partner for their clients. To do their jobs well they must remain up to date across so many areas,” says Angus Kench.

“Anything AILA can do to help in this area we do. We already provide over 85 educational seminars and events annually across Australia and we now also deliver some of these programs via various technology platforms thereby increasing our reach and ability to provide education to many more.”

Kench is also quick to remind brokers that AILA is about more than insurance law.

“We deliver education across law, regulation, developing insurance industry issues, insurtech, etc. Our website has an event listing page and you can join our association as a ‘friend’ and receive seminar and event updates,” he says.

AILA: Young Professionals

The AILA Young Professionals National and State Committees were established to provide events specifically tailored to those relatively new within the insurance industry.

Educational content and networking benefits are intertwined with events, some of which are also designed to meet the needs of the entire age spectrum of professionals just entering the industry, rather than just youth.

Some examples of AILA Young Professionals events include the Ron Shorter Award for Public Speaking, Law for Insurers and the Luminaries Dinner and social events – such as Speed Networking, the Suits Season, and Basics & Beyond.

Global networking, connections and education opportunities are also available due to AILA being part of AIDA.

AILA: Ron Shorter Award

Established in 2012, the Ron Shorter Memorial Award is a competition to encourage the development of public speaking skills among young insurance professionals.

Twenty applicants from each participating state are selected to attend public speaking workshops before applying the skills they have learnt to deliver a two-minute presentation on an insurance topic of their choice.

A panel of judges then selects three finalists who receive further one-on-one training before competing in the finals, where they present for 15 minutes to an audience of 80-100 peers and a panel of high-profile industry representatives.

AILA: Geoff Masel Lecture

Born in Melbourne in 1921, Geoff Masel was one of Australia's leading lawyers, a founder of the Victorian branch of AILA, and the first recipient of the Insurance Law Prize in 1995.

His most prominent cases included litigation arising from the Westgate Bridge collapse, the Ash Wednesday bushfires, and the collision at Sydney Airport in 1971 between a TAA Boeing 727 and Canadian Pacific DC8.

Masel was scheduled to be the guest speaker for the esteemed AILA ‘Travelling Fellows & International Speakers’ in 2004 – however, he passed away on August 08 2004, aged 75.

In memory of Masel, AILA announced the Geoff Masel Lecture Series in 2005 – past speakers have included The Honourable Margaret Beazley, Justice Kevin Nicholson, Professor Robert Merkin, and many more.

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