Garry Taylor is the new man at the helm of NZI after taking over from industry veteran Karl Armstrong after he retired following four decades at IAG. Insurance Business talks to Taylor about his goals and how he’ll make the Executive General Manager (EGM) role his own when he picks it up next month. Taylor has been promoted to this role having previously been NZI’s general claims manager.
What are your goals for 2018?
The immediate priority is always our people. We’re working to create a work culture where people take pride in the NZI brand and want to deliver great outcomes for our broker partners and, of course, end customers. We’re focused on the long-term sustainability of NZI which will mean a continued focus on pricing appropriately for risk and a disciplined approach to underwriting.
You’ve got some pretty big shoes to fill, how will you make the EGM role your own?
There are three main areas I think are crucial to focus on as a leader; first and foremost, our people - it’s important we have a culture where people enjoy coming to work each day and are motivated to do the best job they can.
Secondly, our partnerships - our brokers play an important part in our business and I’d like to continue to enhance those connections. My previous role leading the claims team at NZI has given me the right skills and experience to help make the claims experience easier for our brokers. Ease of business is crucial to maintaining those working relationships.
Thirdly, performance. NZI is continually seeking to understand how we can best provide insurance solutions that take into account environmental, economic and societal factors. It’s with this information that we continue to challenge ourselves as to how we can better help a growing New Zealand, and support businesses to continue to thrive.
Tell us a bit about your background. Why insurance?
I had a good understanding of the value of insurance at a very young age. My father had a small insurance brokerage where I worked briefly before starting my career with State Insurance in 1992. More than 25 years’ experience with IAG has provided some fantastic roles and responsibilities.
I have been fortunate enough to hold various management positions in sales, broker account management, commercial underwriting and claims. I’m passionate about the role insurance plays in our economy. Being there to help businesses and personal customers to recover in their time of need is why I’ve stuck to a career in insurance.
What inspires you, gets you out of bed in the morning?
I work with some extremely talented people and thrive off working alongside them to develop new ways of doing things to continue to provide affordable and reliable insurance solutions.
Do you think digital platforms will eventually replace advisers?
No, there will always be a need for advice and a demand from customers to receive this face to face. Having said this, there will be customers that may prefer virtual advice and digital platforms will provide customers with options for more straightforward insurance needs.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the industry?
Insurance companies are constantly having to manage the impact of major events and the flow through on society. Maintaining insurance at affordable levels and the transition to Risk Based Pricing following a greater frequency of major natural disasters and weather-related events will be a challenge.
NZI is constantly reviewing how to price appropriately for the risks concerned. It’s often under reported how critical sustainability is within the insurance sector, but a robust insurance model is vital to New Zealand’s economy and change is needed for insurance companies to continue to be there for New Zealanders in their time of need.