Brokerage MD on mental health, skills shortage and trees

In this Insurance Business TV interview, Cameron McKerchar, managing director of Tudor Insurance, explains why insurance coverage for tree workers is very expensive and hard to place. Melbourne based McKerchar - like Honan’s Andrew Fluitsma - also openly discusses the importance of mental health, including his firm’s Be Your Best Now initiative, Movember and a successful fundraiser.

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Daniel: [00:00:22:01] Hello and welcome back to Insurance Business TV. I'm Danny Wood, news editor of Insurance Business Australia. And today we're joined by Cameron McKerchar, managing director of Tudor Insurance. Tudor is a Melbourne based brokerage with a history going back to 1985. And for about half that time, Cameron has worked with the company Tudor offers General and also some specialist insurance. Cameron says one of those areas, insurance for tree contractors and arborists, is under particular pressure right now. We'll talk about that with Cameron. But first up, his firm is also involved in some mental health initiatives. But first up, welcome, Cameron.

Cameron: [00:00:58:24] Oh, Danny, how are you going?

Daniel: [00:01:00:10] Yeah, good. Thanks. Good to have you on the show.

Cameron: [00:01:02:07] Thank you.

Daniel: [00:01:03:05] Yeah. So start with tell us about this. Be your best now program that you've started up.

Cameron: [00:01:08:08] Well, I was introduced to a positive psychologist via our accountant about three or four months ago, and he runs the program be your best now. It focuses on lifting people from being happy to, you know, being the best they can be, not necessarily bringing people back from a lower state. It focuses on three areas the mind, the body and relationships.

Daniel: [00:01:30:07] And what about yourself? I mean, how do you deal with your own mental health struggles? I mean, you're a managing director, so I mean, no doubt work pressures are a big deal. Do you have tricks that you sort of employ to keep yourself happy and and good at work?

Cameron: [00:01:46:22] Yeah, definitely. For me, I mean, look, I've had some pretty dark times in the past and been with a psychologist for a number of years who I still see from time to time just to make sure that everything's where it should be. I think focusing on your on your on your health is important. So exercise is a big thing. I think exercise is probably the most underutilized, but one of the most effective things you can do to keep yourself in a positive mind frame. And when you're, you know, busy in a role at Tudor here. Every little bit helps to keep yourself positive. Definitely.

Daniel: [00:02:21:09] And you found this be your best program has helped you as well.

Cameron: [00:02:25:02] Oh, definitely, yeah. From everyone from, you know, from our our front of house receptionist to myself. It's it's been a great program so far.

Daniel: [00:02:34:05] And what about I mean, just from a purely business perspective, what about the link in here to, I guess, the talent shortage? Is this helping deal with that in some way?

Cameron: [00:02:42:14] Absolutely. We're focusing now on what our EVP and Parliament value proposition is. There's a lot of brokers out there and they're all looking for staff presently, but we're just trying to do things differently to show that we not only say we care about our staff, but we also demonstrate that by running programs like this as well. And the one major benefit is it's not about being better at work, it's about being a better person. And the flow on effect of that. Obviously, as you do get a better person network who's happier and more fulfilled.

Daniel: [00:03:15:18] You're also focusing on men's mental health. And November was sort of National November Month. I know you had a fundraiser. How did that go?

Cameron: [00:03:25:00] Yeah, well, the team here, we raised nearly $3,000 from an original goal of 1500, 2895 was our final total. And we're really we're really pleased with that. I mean, men's mental health is becoming more in focus lately. In the past, it's probably been something, you know, just toughen up or cut off. But, you know, men have struggles and they need to be open about that to help themselves be better going forward.

Daniel: [00:03:53:02] So the focus on men is because I guess there is a sort of cultural issue where men tend to have more than women, that we are a bit tongue tied about this kind of stuff, I guess.

Cameron: [00:04:03:00] Yeah, I think men see it as a sign of weakness if they're suffering from depression or anxiety. But, you know, I say to everyone, including my wife and my kids, you know, if you if you broke your arm, you'd go and get your arm fixed at the hospital. So if you're struggling mentally, you just you see you see a professional and help yourself get fixed. There's no shame or embarrassment and it at all.

Daniel: [00:04:26:07] Cameron, one of the more interesting specialist areas that you cover for insurance is tree arborists. And I understand they're having some issues at the moment. Can you tell us about that?

Cameron: [00:04:36:24] Yeah. One section of the agriculture industry, which is the vegetation management, which focuses on the vegetation around infrastructure, particularly power lines, has come under increasing pressure in the last few years. There's been some well-publicized incidents in Australia with bushfires that was caused by vegetation coming into contact with power lines. These smaller operators, we have an affordability issue with insurance there because the pricing for this starts at over $200,000, which is not affordable for small operators. And there's other incidents, of course, not just locally but overseas in America and in Europe, with bushfires also being caused by vegetation coming into contact with power lines.

Daniel: [00:05:19:23] And so these these contractors are being, I guess, held accountable in a way for these issues, which seems a little unfair.

Cameron: [00:05:27:01] Yeah, Well, the utilities companies and their major contractors are pushing the responsibility down the line to them. Their job is to maintain and report on vegetation that needs to be managed around the power lines. And of course, if something does go wrong, the first thing they'll try and do is push that down the line to the smaller operators.

Daniel: [00:05:47:16] So what do you see is the solution here?

Cameron: [00:05:50:07] I think one solution would be for the larger operators that are doing the work or even the utility companies to include the liability for these contractors within their contract so they can still get the work done, the contractors can still get paid, and you're still having an operation for the smaller operators, not just the large guys, because even the large guys would need more workers to do the work than than they employ.

Daniel: [00:06:17:16] Cameron, Thanks for sharing some time with Insurance Business TV.

Cameron: [00:06:21:12] Thanks, Danny.

Daniel: [00:06:22:22] And Cameron McKerchar is managing director of Tudor Insurance. You've been watching Insurance Business TV. Bye for now.