Why insurance law?
Two reasons and a disclaimer. Reason one is the stories and reason two is the law itself. I used to resolve insurance claims disputes. The facts of a loss were always fascinating. I had a good story to tell when I went home at the end of the day. The law is great because you have to blend those fascinating facts with clean policy wording and dusty common law. The disclaimer is that I don’t do insurance law at the Insurance Council. I have to know about it and about developments in it, but most of my work revolves around government, advocacy on industry issues and other legislation and regulation that affects the industry.
How would you change the industry?
More technology, more disruption, much quicker.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
If you have six hours to cut down a tree, spend the first four sharpening the axe.
If you were prime minister for one day, what would you do?
Establish a ministry of silly walks.
What’s the biggest challenge facing the industry today?
Adapting to a digital age. Cyber risks are on the rise. The connected consumer will become more powerful so we need tools to interact effectively online. Traditional distribution models will be tested. Micro insurance, peer to peer insurance and other creative ways of pooling risk and capital will keep evolving.
What’s been the highlight of your career?
There have been a few good highlights, none that stand above the rest, but they wouldn’t be proper highlights without champagne and my wife Alice to celebrate.
What’s your favourite style of coffee?
I cannot typecast coffee. It has so many delightful functions. Espresso as a morning pickup. Hot flat whites for cold days and cold S.O.B.s (see Peoples Coffee) for hot days. Over ice cream or in tiramisu for dessert. I haven’t yet figured out a way to blend coffee with sleep yet. One can only dream.
Union, league or soccer or other?
Is that an appropriate question in a world cup month? I will let you in on a secret. I bet against the teams I support. “Emotional hedging”. If your team wins, you’re out of pocket but you’re happy. If your team loses, you’ve got cash. Win-win. Two current problems I have with that strategy are that I‘m still grieving the Hurricanes’ loss, and old flatmates still give me plenty about making bank on the All Blacks 2007 quarterfinal loss to France (they enjoyed breakfast on my treasonous winnings though). Gambling aside I used to play basketball. I gave up after high school when I was overlooked for LeBron James in the NBA draft. I bet he wishes he was in insurance now. I took up sailing and multisport instead.
If you could invite three people to dinner, dead or alive, and excluding family or friends, who would they be and why?
Cuthbert Heath. He epitomised the spirit of insurance.
Al Brown, and then he could cook (be careful, if I ever invite you over for dinner I might make you cook too).
Stephen Fry, so that my trivial pursuit team would win.
Complete this sentence: if I wasn’t in insurance law I would be…
An editor of literary magazine Lapham’s Quarterly.