Asteron Life : Everything you need to know

Asteron Life – Everything you need to know

Main office location

Level 13, Asteron Centre, 55 Featherson Street, Pipitea, Wellington 6011

Postal address

PO Box 894, Wellington 6140

Size (employees)

1,100 (approx) Suncorp New Zealand employees


Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington

Company website

Key people

Jimmy Higgins (CEO), Grant Willis (Executive General Manager, Life), Andrew MacFarlane (Chief Financial Officer), Helen McNeil (Chief Risk Officer), Catherine Dixon (Executive General Manager, People & Culture), Sacha Cowlrick (Executive General Manager, Business), Jane Brewer (Executive General Manager, Consumer), Campbell Mitchell (Chief Customer Officer), Tom Hinds (Executive General Manager, Strategy & Transformation), Annette Quesado (Head of Legal & Secretariat).   

About Asteron Life

Asteron Life Limited is a New Zealand life insurance company providing a range of life, trauma, income protection, total and permanent disability and business cover to the New Zealand market.

Asteron Life is part of Suncorp New Zealand, a leading general and life insurance business. Suncorp New Zealand refers to a group of related or associated companies in NZ consisting of Vero Insurance New Zealand Ltd, Vero Liability Insurance Ltd, Asteron Life Ltd, AA Life Ltd, AA Insurance Ltd and AA Money, all of which are connected to Suncorp Group Ltd, an Australian company listed on the ASX.

Asteron Life has been given an AA- Financial Strength Rating by Standard & Poor’s. The Ratings Outlook is stable.

Recognised as a leading insurer in various industry awards, Asteron Life was a finalist for the 2019 Life Insurance Company of the Year and winner of the 2021 Life Insurance Company of the Year award at the (ANZIIF) New Zealand Insurance Awards. In 2019 and 2021, the business won the Excellence in Workplace Diversity and Inclusion award (2020 ANZIIF Awards were cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic).

Brief history of Asteron Life

Asteron Life’s history can be traced back to 1878, when it was originally known to Kiwis as Royal and Sun Alliance. Asteron Life Limited was founded in 1985, its core lines of business including the underwriting of accident and health insurance.

Leadership at Asteron Life

Jimmy Higgins – CEO Suncorp New Zealand

Jimmy has held several senior roles in the financial sector for more than 20 years. Prior to joining the Suncorp Group, he was a Chartered Accountant for over 12 years with KPMG and later McGrathNicol, where he worked in the Audit, Assurance, and Forensic Accounting practices across their respective offices in Brisbane, Sydney, and Toronto. In his various roles, he provided advice to many large corporations and government on financial risk management, internal controls, and corporate governance.

Since joining the Suncorp Group in 2008, Jimmy worked in the General and Life insurance businesses, delivering customer outcomes across the many Suncorp brands and portfolios. He is highly experienced in managing natural disasters both in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand and was instrumental in leading the industry response that resulted in the Natural Disaster Response Agreement with the EQC in New Zealand (he was awarded Insurance Leader of the year in 2021 for this work). In 2019, he became the Chief Financial Officer for Suncorp New Zealand, and following this, CEO. He is leading the transformation change across the Suncorp New Zealand general and life businesses to deliver frictionless, connected experiences across our broader customer base.

Grant Willis – Executive General Manager, Life

As Executive General Manager Life, Grant oversees the core functions and performance of Asteron Life, including sales, underwriting, operations, product, pricing, claims and client servicing. Grant has held senior roles across Suncorp New Zealand since 2011 when he joined the business as the Chief Financial Officer of Asteron Life.

Since then he has led various teams including Finance, Actuarial and Strategy for both Asteron and the wider Suncorp NZ business, and played major roles in the profitability, strategy development, and growth of the Asteron Life business in particular.

Grant has a wealth of experience and over 35 years in the life and general insurance, banking and funds management industries, having held senior finance and operational roles at AIG NZ, ASB, Colonial Fiji, and Sovereign prior to joining the Suncorp New Zealand Team.

Helen McNeil – Chief Risk Officer

Helen is the Chief Risk Officer for the Suncorp Group in New Zealand and is accountable for the second line of defence risk-related accountabilities including risk, compliance, quality assurance, internal fraud, and regulatory affairs. She provides risk support and oversight for Asteron Life, Vero Insurance, Vero Liability, AA Insurance, and AA Money.

Helen has been with Suncorp New Zealand since 2008 and prior to this, she spent 15 years acting as a litigation solicitor in both Australia and New Zealand.  Career highlights include leading the legal response to our Earthquake Recovery Programme and she was a key contributor to shaping the insurance industry’s response to the review of the EQC Act in 2018.

Culture at Asteron Life

Asteron Life is dedicated to getting out into the community and making a real difference to the lives of New Zealanders. As part of Suncorp, it provides employees access to the Brighter Futures community giving programme, which enables them to make a difference through volunteering, donating and payroll giving.

In March 2021, and through Suncorp New Zealand’s community partner Shine, the business was awarded the DVFREE Tick accreditation, recognising the steps taken to provide a domestic violence-free workplace, where employees impacted by domestic violence can feel safe and supported at work.

For Asteron Life, corporate responsibility is about taking a long-term approach to running its business; recognising that growth and success should be sustainable and should also benefit customers, partners and communities. This means considering the environmental, social, governance and economic risks and opportunities.

In 2019 and 2021 the business won the Excellence in Workplace Diversity and Inclusion award at the (ANZIIF) New Zealand Insurance Awards, recognising the focus on building an inclusive and diverse workforce (2020 Awards were cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic). Asteron Life has taken steps to raise the visibility and relevance of Māori and Pasifika culture and language through its increased sponsorship of the TupuToa internship programme, ongoing programmes to embed te reo in workspaces and the 2022 creation of a new Tikanga employee resource group, adding to the variety of employee resource groups already available to employees.


In the news

Regulators review Suncorp Group’s sale of Asteron Life


Regulators review Suncorp Group’s sale of Asteron Life

Group aims to finalise sale within nine months

Asteron Life appoints new chief underwriter amid growth plans


Asteron Life appoints new chief underwriter amid growth plans

New exec has been instrumental in advancing the company's underwriting capabilities

Suncorp is selling NZ life business


Suncorp is selling NZ life business

Buyer will become second largest in this market

Asteron Life revamps two insurance products


Asteron Life revamps two insurance products

Changes aim for greater clarity and customer value

Asteron Life strengthens leadership with senior appointment in life distribution


Asteron Life strengthens leadership with senior appointment in life distribution

Company gears up for further growth

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