Insurance professional: insurers sell promises rather than commodities

Insurance professional: insurers sell promises rather than commodities | Insurance Business

Insurance professional: insurers sell promises rather than commodities

Amelia Macandrew (pictured) has clocked up nearly 15 years of experience in the insurance industry.

As a manager in the corporate communications team at AA Insurance, Macandrew spends a lot of her time working with people, telling stories to make people informed of what AA Insurance is, what it does as a company and as part of the industry.

Macandrew tells Insurance Business the saying “actions speak louder than words” is especially true for insurance companies. In this Q&A, Macandrew explains why she believes so and talks about the challenges facing insurers today.

Insurance Business: Who or what has inspired you to be involved in the insurance industry?

Amelia Macandrew: Well, funnily enough, it’s basically the family business – while my aunt is still working in insurance, my dad and uncle have both retired from the industry. However, I fell into it accidentally, when looking for a marketing & communications job after coming home from Scotland. 

IB: You previously worked at Auckland Council for a number of years and, interestingly, at the City of Edinburgh Council in the UK after that. What have you learned from these experiences and how do these lessons help you now?

AM: Working in local government taught me how important it is to believe in the job you’re doing and what your organisation is trying to achieve – especially if it’s not popular. There is a huge sense of satisfaction knowing that you’re part of something bigger and making a real difference for people.  That’s a big part of the job satisfaction for me personally.

IB: Tell us briefly about your role in AA Insurance.

AM: My role is multi-faceted; I have a small team who have worked as journalists, in government and media agencies, education departments and overseas, and we’re responsible for AAI’s key internal communication channels, telling AAI’s stories so people have a better understanding of who we are and what we do as a company, and as part of the industry. We also use social media to engage with people, and provide advice on reputational issues.

IB: What do you like most about working at this company?

AM: That’s an easy question for me to answer – the people.  I am so lucky to work with many amazing, genuine people who make AAI the company it is.  My team is also fun to work with – while there is a lot of hard work, there is also a lot of banter. Needless to say, it’s no chore coming to work each day. 

IB: Polls and studies around the globe show trust levels of people towards corporations are at an all-time low. How do you make people trust your company?

AM: I believe that actions speak louder than words; and that is especially true for insurance companies, which essentially sell a promise rather than a commodity. I’m not sure you can ‘make’ people trust you, but like building and maintaining a good reputation it’s more about being honest, reliable and doing what you say you’ll do, to be there when people need you most. The communications that my team produces are more than just words – they’re backed up by all the amazing people who work here who are all focused on doing the right thing.   

IB: How do you ensure you are producing your best work for AA Insurance and its stakeholders?

AM: Essentially everything we do is incredibly visible – which means that if we get it wrong, people are going to tell us.  So, an important part of my team’s job is to listen and learn and to continuously improve what we do and how we do it.

IB: What other challenges do you think insurers face today?

AM: Keeping up with the constant rate of change and staying relevant for customers, and making it easy for customers to do business with you via the channel of their choice. We’re lucky to have different generations of staff at AAI, which means we have two-way mentoring: life skills and experience of the more ‘mature’ staff, is exchanged for technology talk with the younger staff. It’s not only a great way to learn from our people, it’s also a way for us to stay relevant and in touch with our customers.

IB: Outside the insurance business, what do you enjoy doing?

AM: At work, I spend most of my time in meetings or in front of a computer – so outside of work, I like to get my hands dirty in the garden or DIY around the house.

IB: Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t in insurance, I would be…

AM: Designing and planting gardens for people and ridding the world of plastic plants!

 

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