Lee-Ann du Toit (pictured), who will be back in February 2023 as chair of the Auckland leg of the Women in Insurance (WII) Summit, is shining a spotlight on the crucial place of insurance in society and how an event like the WII Summit is helping in getting the important conversations going.
The actuary, who is Deloitte New Zealand’s actuarial & insurance services national lead, told Insurance Business: “When I started working in an insurance company, for me the big thing was about what difference are we making in people’s lives.
“Even though insurance is a grudge purchase, you’re actually in the point of a person’s most vulnerable state ever – either they have lost a loved one through death and now their life insurance is being paid out, or they get disabled or they’re really sick and they’ve got healthcare needs and the insurer pays out for their healthcare needs, or they’ve just gone through an earthquake or a flood issue, or their car has been stolen.”
She continued: “If you have the right insurance, and you understand how to provide the best insurance cover to individuals, it’s actually a very, very valuable thing... That’s probably not why I started, but that’s why I’m still here, because it’s really thinking about what difference we’re making in people’s lives.
“If there wasn’t such a thing as insurance, so many people would be really vulnerable and in a difficult state. A big thing that we need to think about is how are we going to make sure that people all have the right insurance and that they’re not underinsured or that they don’t have the wrong cover.”
For du Toit, every industry stakeholder has a particular contribution.
“Whatever your role is in insurance – whether you’re doing the calculations in the background, or you’re running an entire company and you’re trying to make sure that you can do it as efficiently as possible, or you’re a financial adviser and you’re trying to make sure that the customer outcomes are optimal – all of us have got a role to play in that,” she asserted.
Getting together as an industry
Last year, du Toit chaired the WII Summit in New Zealand. In 2023, aside from the Momentum (South African financial services company) alumnus reprising the role, Deloitte has also come onboard as event sponsor.
Sharing her previous WII Summit experience, du Toit noted: “I just really enjoyed the fact that we had lots of women in the room – it was the first time I was ever at an insurance conference where there were more women than men in the room, which was amazing. It was 80, 90% women. There were men there too, which was good. And we spoke about every kind of topic you could think about: equity, diversity, different challenges that you have, how we make sure that we have the right representation, how do you support people in their roles, and being a CEO.
“Naomi Ballantyne opened the day as the [managing director] of Partners Life, and she spoke about her career path and how she runs her business. And we spoke about regulatory challenges and the big customer issues that the industry is facing and all of that. There were networking opportunities and all of those things happening as well… From a Deloitte perspective, and from a personal perspective, I think it’s really important to be part of this Women in Insurance Summit. It’s really, really key for me.”
The event chair added: “I think the other part of it is that it brings lots of different parts of the industry together, and I’m hoping it’s going to be the same in February when we get together, whether you’re an actuary or an accountant, or you’re running marketing and sales, or you’re on the legal side. And there were life insurers, health insurers, general insurers – they were all there in a room together, which I thought was really good.”
In du Toit’s view, it’s an opportunity to gather peers again – hopefully in greater numbers this time around – to get everyone to be part of the conversation.
The future of insurance
One of du Toit’s task at the upcoming event will be to moderate the panel on the future of the insurance sector – an assignment she is looking forward to.
“I’m very excited to be moderating that panel,” she told Insurance Business. “The future of insurance is always something that people wonder about, especially now because there’s so much change happening… All the regulatory change that’s happening on the side, a lot of it is customer-related, which I love, because it’s all about the end customer and what we’re doing for them. So, stuff like CoFI (Conduct of Financial Institutions regime) and looking at how we actually provide the best financial advice and outcome to our customers – that’s going to be quite key.
“So, let’s think about that future of insurance. And where are we going with digitisation, and how are we giving online advice and online support and integrating the omni-channel world for our insurers of today into tomorrow? I’d love to hear what people think about that.
The Deloitte partner went on to say: “As a moderator, I’m hoping that the panel will be keen to share their own perspectives, but also challenge each other and ask questions. And we have the audience to also ask questions, and I’m sure we’re going to have a fun audience. So, all of those things, I’m very excited to see how we can actually look into the future of insurance and have our crystal ball in front of us and think where we’re going with it.”
The Women in Insurance Summit for New Zealand – backed by event sponsor Deloitte, gold sponsors Marsh and Delta Insurance Group, and coffee sponsor Look Good Feel Better – is happening on February 28, 2023, at Hilton Auckland. Register now.