ANZIIF chief on what she finds "incredibly exciting"

The ever-positive CEO outlines what's ahead for the industry

ANZIIF chief on what she finds "incredibly exciting"

Insurance News

By Terry Gangcuangco

It’s hard to imagine a time when Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance (ANZIIF) chief executive Prue Willsford (pictured) isn’t advocating for professionalism within the industry. Willsford, who describes herself as “always positive” about the year ahead, shares what the trade body is looking forward to.

“I’m really excited about collaborations that ANZIIF is working with cross-sections of the industry on, and particularly in both the life and general insurance sectors in Australia,” the CEO told Insurance Business. “We’re really thinking about how we set standards in the context of claims handling as a legislated financial service.

“There is what I call the ‘tsunami of regulation’ that is happening particularly in general insurance this year, which is predominantly in response to the Hayne Royal Commission. So, the opportunity for the industry to really work together on non-competitive issues that will benefit the community is incredibly exciting.”

These collaborations, in Willsford’s view, will stand the industry in good stead in the years to come.

Meanwhile, citing the recent floods and the estimated half a billion dollars’ worth of damage, the ANZIIF chief went on to note: “Given that everyone tells me that you cannot get a tradie at the moment because everyone’s doing home improvement, the opportunity for insurers to really shine at that moment of claim time will be tested through the availability of trades as well as by challenges to the supply chain that have come up through the pandemic.

“That’s going to be challenging to be able to really deliver on the claims experience in a timely fashion, and I certainly know there’s a lot of focus on doing so. But this is a complex environment in which to be doing that.”

Another major challenge that Willsford believes has the potential to be turned into something positive is the changing risk appetite of carriers. With a number of risks now harder to place, the CEO thinks there is a significant opportunity for insurance brokers to really engage with customers on quality risk advice.

As for the issue of consumer trust, specifically in relation to the business interruption cases, Willsford conceded that either outcome will have an impact.

“If the courts in Australia find that people are not covered, then policyholders will question their insurance cover,” she explained. “And if they are covered, they’ll question why the insurers didn’t pay out. So, I think this is a very tricky field to navigate, and it will be interesting to see how that plays out.”   

While the industry waits with bated breath, though, ANZIIF is constantly ‘banging the drum’ to ensure that the value of professionalism remains front and centre, with initiatives such as the ‘Year of the Insurance Professional’.

Talking about the undertaking, Willsford said: “We felt it was really important to celebrate the great things that we do, and find ways of telling those stories also to our own community.” Additionally, the CEO highlighted what she considers the foundational elements of professionalism: certification, commitment to ethics, and professional development – three things that ANZIIF’s about 17,000 members live by.

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