IB Talk

ANZIIF CEO on 2023 industry challenges

         

Prue Willsford, CEO of ANZIIF, the Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance, told IB Talk that insurance affordability and accessibility challenges are “on everyone’s mind.” The leader of the industry’s professional association discussed the results of a major survey of members’ and customers’ views of her organization. Willsford also detailed how ANZIIF and its partners are pushing for a claims handling professional framework.

 

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Narrator: Welcome to IB Talk, the leading podcast for the insurance industry across Australia, New Zealand and throughout the Asia Pacific region. Brought to you by insurance business. 

Danny: Hello and welcome back to IB Talk. I'm Danny Wood, news editor of Insurance Business Australia. At this time of year, we devote some of our news coverage in articles and podcasts to looking at some of the challenges the insurance industry faces in the year ahead, 2023. So it's a good time to talk with Prue Willsford, CEO of ANZIF, the Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance, the industry's professional association. Prue is in Melbourne. Hi, Prue. 

Prue: Hi, Danny. Great to speak with you. 

Danny: Yeah, you too. So how was your break? What did you get up to? 

Prue: I was lovely, thank you. I spend a lot of time at the farm learning new skills. So lots of fun had by all. 

Danny: Learning new skills is at milking cows and shearing sheep. 

Prue: Our fencing, mostly. 

Danny: Oh, okay. That sounds like a skill I'd rather not learn. So well. Let's kick off with insurance industry challenges. I mean, there are a lot of them around, but I mean, what comes to your mind is one or two of the big industry challenges in 2023. 

Prue: Yeah. Thanks, Danny. I don't think it's any great surprise to say the affordability and accessibility issues, you know, fueled by the broader natural catastrophes and inflation is on everyone's mind. What I have loved over the summer is the increasing maturity of that conversation and and a broader landscape around resilience, about investment and about the role of insurance relative to a broader program. So I think I think I really saw that conversation beginning last year. But over this summer, as we have faced into what has been a devastating, devastating series of events and is still unfolding, it has been incredibly pleasing to to see. Insurance fitting into a broader, more mature conversation. So that's really pleasing. The other the other element, which I think again is no great surprise and is no great surprise that ANZIF is rising. It is our people issues. So turnover, engagement, mental health and well being, career pathing, all of those issues are coming through very strongly in our research and also our conversations with industry as as a major challenge for 2023. 

Danny: Let's see, there are two key issues. Let's pick on that first one just a little. I mean, the floods you alluded to are sort of happening as we speak and seem to have been continuously unrolling across the country for months and months and months. I mean, what have you seen about these discussions over the affordability of insurance in in that area perhaps that has impressed you in recent months? 

Prue: Yeah, I think the idea that simply insurance will pay and also that the old conversations about how there was market failure when in fact it was simply risk based pricing. I think that has matured significantly over the last couple of years. And and whilst we would all prefer not to be having these conversations in the sense that it would be great if there was not the level of of catastrophes that we're seeing. The reality is that is our landscape and understanding how insurance fits and the choices people are making around where they live, how they live, what insurance cover they have, I think is an important social conversation. 

Danny: Moving on to your your focus area, which is education and training. What are you keeping an eye on this year that's relevant to the insurance industry? 

Prue: Well, of course, everything we do is relevant to insurance. It's fantastic to see all of our codes of practice really coming to the fore. We'll see the new life insurance code of practice through this year. And of course, the broker code is now in place and it's great to see some of those reports from the code compliance committees around around those maturing of those codes and their implementation across our industry. They are really important standards for us to uphold that are, again, broadly speaking, above the minimum requirements of the law and hopefully articulate to customers what their expectations of us as an industry should be. So having three now reasonably mature codes through life broking and general insurance I think is is fantastic. And something that ANZIF is highly engaged with industry and making sure that we have consistent standards across our industry. So that's fantastic. Obviously looking to claims, handling and professional standards, we're continuing to roll out the life insurance professional standards across the life industry, which is great, and that's really gaining traction through last year and this year. And then similarly, those discussions around what does a professional framework look like for claims handling with within general insurance. So there's certainly a lot on there. Separately, in 2022 and undertook a major piece of research across industry. And one of the challenges and opportunities for ANZIF is that the people who often pay for our services are not the people who consume our services. So we have two customers with different expectations and different needs. Lots of great things came out of that research, which is fantastic. We have a great brand. We have quality education. We are valued by both employers and employees. But interestingly, one of the things that we found is that employees are particularly keen as part of their ongoing professional career development to have external certification of their skills. So there was a bit of a gap and an opportunity there for us to continue that conversation with with the employers. And finally, one of the things for AZNIF to explore and play with is, is how we can continue to grow our relevance to people at their different career points and some of the exciting communication opportunities that we have around personalizing that membership experience. So there's lots, lots of great, great insights coming out of the over 1000 people that we spoke to last year as part of that customer listening research. So yeah, lots to do. Very exciting. But what we know is that we've got fantastic materials to work with and this is just about enhancing that experience. 

Danny: Is there a particular project coming up this year that you're looking looking forward to? 

Prue: Yeah, I think the claims handling professional framework I think is something that there is no one else in industry who has the, I think the combination of the perspective and the authority to actually drive collaborations of that nature. And so that is part of the reason having a professional association is an important part of the insurance landscape. 

Danny: Is there something else to say about the claims handling? Because that's obviously a critical part of the insurance industry. Are there sort of weaknesses there that you're particularly looking at? 

Prue: Yes, I think there's a couple of elements. One is, you know, having had conversations with a broad range of industry, there is clearly a need for us as an industry to say this is what good looks like at a minimum through the claims handling value chain. And it's important that we do that ourselves and then roll that out to our employees and also our regulators and our supply chain. Because owning what good looks like I think is important. 

Danny: Prue Willsford, CEO of ANZIF. Thanks very much for sharing some time with IB talk. 

Prue: That's great. Thank you so much, Danny. 

Danny: And join us next time on IB talk. Bye for now. 

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