The Underwriting Agencies Council of Australia's general manager has spoken of his personal hopes that the organisation will go beyond incorporating New Zealand, to surrounding islands in Oceania.
The UAC, which recently officially went live with its plans to get Kiwi underwriting agencies on board, has two members so far and expects to have a further five by the end of October, with more enquires coming in.
General manager William Legge said, during an exclusive chat with Insurance Business at the Annual NIBA Convention 2013, that bringing New Zealand underwriters into UAC will not only give them a voice and representation but give them the opportunity to tap into markets such as Papua New Guinea, Timor, and other Oceanic islands.
“These are developing countries that need insurance expertise and our members can provide them. Personally, I would like the UAC to go further than that at some point and reach out to them.
“However, first we want to give NZ underwriters an outlet. After that, come other opportunities.”
Legge stressed that the UAC was not “trying to take anyone’s turf”, rather provide a platform for underwriters in New Zealand that do not currently exist.
“We are not trying to take anyone’s turf – we are trying to expand it. People might ask why we are going to New Zealand but we are looking at the broader prospects. There is a broader market than what we are currently in, and what New Zealand is currently in.”
The UAC has been asked if there will be a “UAC NZ” but Legge said that is not the plan.
“The concept of the UAC is its global capacity. We want to have an overarching UAC that voices and represents the interests of all its members […]. Unity is in strength. Together we are stronger. We are well respected in Asia Pacific. We should use that respect we have as a combined unity.”
He added the organisation will at some point look at “board representation”.
Legge believes that opportunities to collaborate exist in tackling large catastrophes – something which both countries have been exposed to.
“Australia and New Zealand have synergies in terms of experience natural catastrophes. The marketplace is crossing the Tasman. By coming together, we can spread the risk of insuring [certain things] and that is what insurance is all about.”
Since the UAC’s first meeting with underwriters in New Zealand, the organisation has fielded a string of enquiries from players interested in joining.
“We will go back to New Zealand and meet with regulators and organisations. It is all about meeting people who are important to the industry.”