The Underwriting Agencies Council (UAC) is a representative organisation for underwriting firms across Australia and New Zealand and currently serves the interests of over 100 corporate members.
UAC members operate predominantly through insurance brokers and, collectively, UAC members are responsible for more than $3.5 billion in Australian premiums.
Formed in 1998, the Underwriting Agencies Council was established by the heads of six underwriting agencies, as they found they all had growing concerns about impending legislative change and the impact it would have on the industry.
At the time, underwriters had largely escaped heavy regulation and while insurers, brokers and life insurance agents were regulated, underwriting agents had not been included in the licensing regime so could fly under the radar to a certain degree.
Underwriting agency representatives were concerned firms would be “legislated into oblivion” so the group teamed up to form UAC as a representative body to promote agencies’ interests in the same way ICA represented insurers and NIBA represented brokers.
The founding leaders were Rod Garnett of Dawes Underwriting, Roy Ellis and Chris Harnett of InterPacific Underwriting, Graham Fisher of Mansions Australia, Merv Cross of Sentinel Underwriting, Greg Bunt of Triton Underwriting and Rob Mauldon of Underwriting Solutions.
Bunt, Cross, Ellis, Fisher, Garnett and Mauldon became the founding directors with Harnett taking the role of secretary and public officer and Mauldon named as the inaugural chairman.
At the time, the newly-created UAC set itself three goals: secure the treasury’s formal recognition of underwriting agencies, enhance the commercial environment of underwriting agencies and position UAC as Australia’s peak industry body for underwriting agencies.
According to the UAC, its most effective initiative in improving the council was the launch of the UAC/NIBA joint expos, which gave members the chance to present their business and credentials directly to brokers. The first expo, which took place in Newcastle in 1998, had less than 10 exhibitors.
While the UAC launched with just three goals, the organisation has continued to push itself in pursuit of constant improvement. Now, its objectives are:
- To monitor issues and regulation which may impact underwriting agencies and, when necessary, develop positions on those issues
- To represent underwriting agencies in negotiations or discussions with legislature and bodies whose subsequent decisions may impact underwriting agencies
- To promote underwriting agencies as an efficient means of insurance distribution and to promote the views and interests of underwriting agencies
- To set guidelines to assist members in ensuring the stability, security and reputation of their individual businesses
- To encourage members’ professional development, to liaise and work with other professional associations, and to encourage dialogue between members.
“Through meeting the above objectives, UAC will affirm and sustain its membership’s position at the forefront of the Australian insurance industry,” the organisation states on its website.
UAC’s 120 listed members provide underwriting services to suit a wide variety of sectors and specialisms – these range from aboriginal communities and asbestos demolition to terrorism and tattoo parlours – and everything in between.
Full members of the organisation have access to a range of benefits, including opportunities to exhibit at broker expos, professional development and training days, discounted legal services, discounted products and services for staff and specialised professional indemnity arrangements.
UAC: Strategic Partners
UAC’s principal strategic partner is Lloyd’s Australia – since 2010, Lloyd’s has participated in UAC member forums, which are held prior to the many broker expos across the country. The forums provide UAC members with updates on Lloyd’s as well as general market trends which may impact Australian underwriting agencies.
UAC also has a strategic partnership with QBE Australia, which is the council’s strategic underwriting partner. As part of the QBE Insurance Group, one of the world’s top 20 general insurance and reinsurance companies, QBE Australia provides a broad range of insurance products to personal, business, corporate and institutional customers.
As of January 2019, the UAC board consists of Lyndon Turner (chair), Kurt Nilsen (deputy chair), Peter Fryer (treasurer), Heath Amber (company secretary and public officer), Emily Walker (director), Simon Lightbody (director), Eric Lowenstein (director), Trent Brown (director), Chris Mackinnon (associate director) and William Legge (general manager).