Austbrokers Coast to Coast: Everything you need to know
Number of employees: < 50
Headquarters: Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast, QLD
Key figures: Dale Hansen (CEO)
Austbrokers Coast to Coast specialises in providing a wide variety of broking services for various kinds of insurance, such as commercial and residential insurance, as well as hard-to-place risks such as petrochemicals, construction, and financial lines.
The firm also has a specialist retail division, which helps clients obtain cover for their home and contents, motor vehicles, boats, farms, weddings, and residential strata – from duplex apartments to high-rise buildings.
Founded in 1982 as Tasman Insurance Brokers, it has grown over the years by making several acquisitions until it became one of the largest insurance brokers on the Gold Coast and is also represented across the Gold and Tweed Coasts and Brisbane. It is a member of the Austbroker Network, which specialises in the small and medium enterprise (SME) market and serves over 200,000 clients.
Leadership and Direction
Austbrokers Coast to Coast is headed by Dale Hansen. He became CEO of the firm in 2012, bringing with him over 20 years’ experience in the risk management and insurance industry. He spent eight years as a corporate broker at the company, building a portfolio of over $9 million.
According to Hansen, Austbrokers Coast to Coast is both customer-centric and risk management-focused. The firm spends a lot of time getting to know the client’s business and their risk appetite and offers tailored solutions based on this information.
Hansen also disagrees with what he sees regarding the commoditisation of the market, a path which many brokers seem to be following in recent times.
“Once we start commoditising our clients, we’re not really any different to a direct insurer. I don’t think that’s what clients are looking for; it’s not what our clients are looking for,” he said, adding that there is still a huge role and place for old-fashioned customer service and relationships, and building such a relationship is difficult when brokers deal only in the IT space.
Building relationships is one of the most important aspects of the broking business, according to Hansen. He stressed that technology should never replace the human element in broking and the insurance industry in general.
“We’re not seeking to commoditise our business and do things more cost-effectively, necessarily,” he said. “We understand that this way of doing business comes at a cost, but our clients are happy to go on a journey with us because we’re providing what they’re looking for.”
However, a major obstacle to building a relationship is the lack of trust the public has in brokers. In 2017, the Roy Morgan Image of Professions Survey found that only 10% of respondents said they had trust in the ethics and honesty of insurance brokers. This means that brokers are among the least trusted professionals in Australia, edging out only car salesmen, advertising workers, and real estate agents.
“We are just not very good at selling the message,” Hansen said. “We need to improve on selling the message of what it is we do.”
On a more positive note, Hansen believes that clients are now taking a more holistic approach to risk management, in which they no longer focus on price alone but instead take into major consideration the quality of both the policy and the customer service they receive from their brokers.
In the future, Hansen would like Austbrokers Coast to Coast to make another acquisition of a brokerage, as well as continue with its employee training and upskilling initiatives.
In recent years, the Burleigh Heads-based firm has won numerous awards. It was hailed as the Australian Small Insurance Brokerage of the Year for 2016 and 2017 by the Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance (ANZIIF).
In 2018, Austbrokers Coast to Coast won the Lloyd’s Brokerage of the Year (6-20 staff) at the Insurance Business Awards, and ranked seventh among the Top 10 Brokerages list.
Broking manager Aimee Williams was highly commended in the Young Gun of the Year – Independent (1-19 staff) category.
Meanwhile, CEO Dale Hansen was recognised by Insurance Business as one of its Elite Brokers in 2016, 2017, and 2018. He placed eighth in 2016 and 10th in 2018, while the 2017 edition of the awards was unranked. The publication noted that he undertakes significant pro bono work for the not-for-profit sector, by holding seminars to improve the risk management practices for charitable organisations, as well as mentoring young brokers.
Hansen also won the inaugural QBE-sponsored Stephen Ball Memorial Award for Insurance Broker of the Year at the 2016 National Insurance Brokers Association (NIBA) Awards.