The insurance and adviser sectors have been critical in helping speed up the recovery of businesses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and although public perceptions of insurance have been historically dire, has this view shifted over the past year?
ANZIIF CEO Prue Willsford said she is hopeful that public perception of insurance and financial advice has changed, particularly as advisers guide businesses through tough domestic and global markets. She said that the importance of getting good risk advice has never been higher, and customers may be starting to recognise this as they work hard to keep their businesses afloat.
“I would like to think that public perception of insurance and the adviser sector has improved during the pandemic, but you’re looking at someone who’s inherently an optimist,” Willsford said.
“A great broker is first and foremost a risk adviser - sure, they might give you advice about products, but they’re actually a partner in growing your business, assessing your exposures and giving you quality risk advice.”
“The market is changing - not only in the sense that it’s hardening, but different insurers are also starting to take different positions in their risk appetites,” she explained.
“That can mean leaving certain lines of business, while other lines of business have become incredibly hard to place. That again means that having someone who isn’t just a broker, but a true risk adviser, is very important, particularly when you have this changing business environment, and a rapidly moving external environment.”
Willsford said that advice had become particularly important for New Zealand businesses that trade internationally, as risk exposures are constantly shifting. She said one of ANZIIF’s priorities over the next year will be to ‘increase efficiency” across the sector, and to provide “increased certainty” to customers in an unpredictable environment.
“New Zealand, while a small country, is actually an important player in our Asia-Pacific region,” she said.
“The importance of collaborating across industry to increase efficiency and effectiveness is also, therefore, important.
“We’re finalising a major project with the life industry where a number of companies have collaborated to build a competency framework, which has been great. We’re also driving major collaborations around claims handling, which is often a mind-boggling process in general insurance, so we’re really focused on providing increased certainty and reduced costs for the end customer, which is a happy place to be.”