Sacha Cowlrick (pictured above during ANZIIF’s New Zealand Insurance Industry Awards), who earlier this year switched roles as part of the senior leadership changes at Suncorp New Zealand, recently had another job: picking up the general insurance company of the year trophy for Suncorp brand Vero Insurance New Zealand. Here the group executive team member talks about the recognition, and the positive changes they’ve been making both within and outside Vero and its parent firm.
“Vero is thrilled to have been awarded general insurance company of the year, which we couldn’t have done without the fantastic support from our customers, team, partners, brokers, and, of course, ANZIIF (Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance),” Cowlrick told Insurance Business.
“It was a privilege to receive the award on behalf of Vero on the night, and the event was a fantastic way to celebrate the amazing work our industry does, and is doing, to support New Zealanders.”
Aside from Cowlrick – Suncorp NZ’s former executive general manager (EGM) for insurance solutions who is now business EGM – also in attendance during the event were people & culture EGM Catherine Dixon, life EGM Grant Willis, consumer EGM Jane Brewer, and head of legal Annette Quesado (pictured below, left to right).
Looking back, Cowlrick shared: “One of the highlights from the last couple of years, which I mentioned on the night, has been seeing the way our people have embraced their Customers Experiencing Vulnerability training.
“Seeing our customer-facing people learn how to identify customers who are struggling, and then refer them to services like Lifeline Connect has been fantastic, and we’ve been able to watch their confidence grow in this space before our eyes.”
Lifeline Connect is a free support service that features frontline staff training for identifying customers who may be experiencing vulnerability and then connecting them to support groups.
“When a customer is experiencing vulnerability,” noted the EGM, “we can facilitate a referral to Lifeline Connect who will contact the customer to provide professional support, which can include counselling, connecting them to additional external community support services, and follow-up wellbeing check-ins.”
For Suncorp NZ chief executive Jimmy Higgins, the abovementioned service is part of his camp’s commitment to being there for policyholders in “the moments that matter” – a commitment that he believes is reflected by the ANZIIF award, which recognises strong performance and outstanding service for customers.
Cowlrick, meanwhile, pointed to the broader group’s “nimble and flexible enough” team that is able to adapt to change when needed.
She told Insurance Business: “It’s been an eventful year for Vero and our wider Suncorp New Zealand business where we’ve been able to make some really positive changes that have had an impact both internally and externally.
“In July this year, we reorganised our business to help us deliver more effectively and more efficiently for our customers and, as part of this, we updated some of the accountabilities associated with our executive team.”
As explained previously by chief customer officer Campbell Mitchell, the move was aimed at making it easier for Suncorp NZ customers, brokers, and partners to do business with the insurer. Additionally, it was in line with the firm’s transformation journey that involves simplifying the business and improving customer experience.
“The changes we’ve implemented have been really positive for our business and our team, and I think change, in general, is becoming increasingly accepted in the corporate space – and any business, or individual, who is looking for the pace of change to slow down is probably out of luck,” said Cowlrick, who has “really enjoyed the opportunity so far to delve into the intricacies associated with the commercial, corporate, marine, and rural parts of our business” as part of her remit transition.
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