There’s a new executive director at the New Zealand Underwriting Agencies Council (NZUAC) in the form of industry veteran Nigel Edmiston, who recently sat down with Insurance Business to talk about the future he sees for underwriting agencies and the council.
“We’re really looking to grow the [NZUAC] membership in a number of ways,” said Edmiston, a former chief risk officer who spent 27 years with Suncorp New Zealand until 2018. “Underwriting agencies are important, and we’ve got a couple of new members. Just recently, one of the larger underwriting agencies, DUAL, has come onboard.”
One other recent addition to the representative body is Wellington-based Lloyd’s coverholder Bounce Insurance Limited, which provides earthquake parametric insurance.
“In New Zealand now, of the premium produced by underwriting agencies, we’ve probably got about 90% of them,” noted the NZUAC executive director. “We’ve got about 25 members now, of about 40 underwriting agencies. So, in numbers, we’ve still got a few to go… And we’re also looking at [adding] partner supplier members, so companies and businesses of all types that might support underwriting agencies and their business.”
Edmiston, who took on the post in June, pointed out that a lot of the agencies are small and, in many ways, have limited capacity. Among the goals then of the NZUAC is to add value by connecting them together as well as connecting them with suppliers.
“Underwriting agencies tend to be providing solutions and are usually innovative around product and service,” Edmiston told Insurance Business. “At the moment, we believe underwriting agencies represent about 10% of the insurance market in New Zealand. Whereas in Australia and the UK, they tend to be more like 20% to 25% of the market.
“Our stated objective is to try to grow the underwriting agency [space] to a point where they are representing 20% to 25% of the market. We think over time, with very clear duopoly in New Zealand, there’s a lot of space and a lot of opportunity for underwriting agencies to grow.”
To help reach that growth objective, Edmiston is keen on leveraging his insurance expertise.
He shared: “What I’m really excited about is using my 40-odd years of insurance experience... I think it’s really about giving back and adding some value, being a bouncing board for the agencies, and having them use my experience and knowledge to assist them. To me, personally, that’s really what excites me.”
Part of the NZUAC’s remit is building a two-way dialogue with the financial services regulators in New Zealand, and Edmiston is no stranger to them.
“In my past life at Suncorp, I had relationships with those people,” declared the executive director, whose background spans insurance as well as regulatory and risk matters. “So, we’re looking to continue that work… We’re working on that to help spread the word about what we do and who we are.”
This month, the council held its “Our Story so Far” event, which presented the NZUAC’s journey and future aspirations to industry stakeholders including representatives from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. In 2023, the non-profit organisation is looking at holding an expo.
“[It will be] something similar to what they do in Australia,” said Edmiston. “That will be my next big priority to be working on.”