Introducing NZ's general insurer of the year

Tower Insurance CEO Blair Turnbull joins Insurance Business TV to discuss the company’s recent NZ general insurer of the year victory at the Insurance Business Awards New Zealand. He explains how the company establishes ‘best in class’ experiences, examines its recent tech innovations and looks at what’s next.
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Paul: [00:00:11] Hello everyone and welcome to the latest edition of Insurance Business TV, and one in which I'm delighted to say we're welcoming the CEO of the general insurer of the year. Yes, it was just a short while ago. The Insurance Business Awards, New Zealand, that Tower Insurance scooped that title, beating out some very strong competition to what is seen as the ultimate honour in the New Zealand insurance industry. So what's the story behind the success and where does the company go from here? There's perhaps no better man to ask that question to than Tower's chief executive officer. Blair Turnbull. Blair, welcome to Insurance Business TV.

Blair: [00:00:52] Thank you, Paul. Great to be here.

Paul: [00:00:55] A Congratulations on tower being named the NZ general insurer of the year. What do you think has led to the success?

Blair: [00:01:04] Yes Paul and and look, it really is it's not about trophies, I appreciate, but it's always a real privilege and a delight to receive this award. So thank you very much. What's led to success? I guess there's two or three key things for. At the heart of it, this purpose. And I think we have a real deep meaning around what we're looking to achieve here at Tower. At the heart of it, you know, Kiwiana. We're right in the middle of the Pacific. We have a lot of natural events. We all appreciate as a community the value of insurance. And I think in some regards, we're really starting to modernise and change how that insurance can look in terms of making it really simple and easy and rewarding. And I think at the heart of it, again, is the purpose. I think we see a real deep positive value that we can create and how we help protect and build communities around insurance and the role that insurance can play. But it is looking quite different to insurance of the past. And at the heart of that is that we've built some really leading capability around technology, digital and data that has enabled us to change the face of that insurance experience. And it's also all about people. It's all about the people at the end of the day. And I think we've got a culture here at Tower that's quite unique. It feels very much at one with our communities and our customers and increasingly is looking to things like sustainability and ESG to create a point of difference.

Paul: [00:02:30] I want to delve into some of those tech innovations a little bit later with you. But you talked about people there, and you've also set out to offer what you describe as best in class customer experiences. Can you tell us what that process involves?

Blair: [00:02:44] Yeah, look, we do a lot of research or a lot of research. And what we saw in that research with our customers and our communities is two things became very clear to us, is that customers often struggle with insurance they appreciate, they want it and need it to look after their beautiful homes and car and pit and so on. But they have struggled to really, truly understand insurance and also link that back to the premium. Why do I pay this much for my home versus the person next door? Why is it different? And so through that research, we've set ourselves up to change the way that we deliver our customer experience. So we want it to be much more simple. We want it to be more rewarding, and we want it very much to be fair and transparent. So an example of that, how do we bring that to life? So recently last year, we introduced what we call risk based pricing for flood and addition to earthquakes. What does that mean? It means what we've done is use the technology side, digital and our data to capture 50 years of a large event experience and lots of data around floods and earthquakes and so on. And what we've done is we've gathered all of that. We've made sense of it. We're partnered with some of the leaders in data around the world like RMS. And what we've done is created all that data and we've presented it back to customers. So what we can do now is show to every single customer and person in New Zealand the risk profile of their home, whether that's low, medium high or very high for flood and also for earthquake. And furthermore, we've then translated that into the premium so that people understand what portion of their premium goes to paying for flood or for earthquake, for example. So that tackles to wicked problems. It helps people better understand their their risks for their beautiful home and also helps them understand their premium and how that comes back to the risks of their home. And therefore, it starts to tackle that wicked problem of I've got insurance, but I don't really understand the cover and I don't understand why I'm charged this amount of premium for my home. And what we want to do as an insurer of choice is share that back with customers so that they start to value their insurance. They start to really understand it in a nice, simple, easy way, but then they start to value it. And I think that's at the heart of what we're doing to change the experience of insurance.

Paul: [00:05:21] Without without a doubt that transparency is so important to customers these days. But, you know, as you mentioned a little bit earlier as well, so is offering that modern experience. So which tech innovations would you describe as being perhaps the the most significant that you've made in terms of getting positive customer feedback?

Blair: [00:05:40] Sure for the heart of it as sacred is our My Tower. And My Tower is where all of that magic comes together in a nice, simple way. So yes, we show all of our policies through there. At any time you can come through and see your motor, your home, your contents, pet travel, whatever you'd like to do. You can go and see all your policies in one place. Very convenient, very, very easy. But what we're also doing is going to the next level of saying, okay, how can we use that technology and that data that we're we're now developing and innovating? How can we also do it to help prevent accidents as well as protect people when there is such an event like a flood? So for example, a go camera app helps to track and monitor your driving behaviors and you do it through a real simple way of just on your phone, on your app. When you jump in and start the car, the app starts going. And what it does is share how you're driving and also helps to give tips and highlights where accidents occur around your community. So for example, if you're going into roundabouts too fast, we often find that that's where a lot of accidents happen and helps people better understand it. The key point here is we're taking digital and data and sharing it with customers to make it more fair and transparent and to help them understand their insurance, just like we did before, in terms of sharing risk profiles to helping people understand what their individual, their lovely home, their risk profiles are according to flood and risk and the like. We're also doing it with motoring and driving and helping people better understand how they're driving. And we've heard a lot of feedback from customers around the Go Camera app where they've used it with their teenage children who are starting to learn to drive. And we know that's often, you know, you're learning a new a new a new behaviour and learning new skills. You often have accidents through karma. You're able to show your teenage boy or girl how they're driving and where they're driving potentially fast, certainly making sure that they don't drive with their phone on and so helping them understand where they can improve their driving skills. And at the heart of that is helping people understand, yes, how to protect their valuable assets, but also how to prevent accident from occurring in the first place.

Paul: [00:08:07] Yeah. And of course, you know, you've obviously achieved a heck of a lot to be able to scoop this award for 2022. But I imagine it that you've got a lot on the go for 2023 as well. Maybe you've got your eyes on this prize once again. So what's next for Tower Insurance? Do you have any plans that you can share with us?

Blair: [00:08:26] Sure. You know, and that's as we've talk so far, Paul. We've talked about having the right protection for you as an individual and family for your home, your motor, the pets, etc.. So helping protect people in the event of an accident or a flood or the like. But increasingly, as we look forward, we do want to help people prevent accidents and help mitigate risks. And there's examples of that. Let's take home, for example, you know, we want to make sure that people have the right cover for a flood or an earthquake or an accident. But at the same time, what we'd like to do is help prevent those. So connecting with connected devices so that around the home you're essentially giving your house a bit of a warrant of fitness just like you do with your car. So around home, connecting to things like link bots so that you detect leakages around the home early, giving customers tips around the electrical side of it. And we know that if you plug in too many iPads or too many devices into a single multi socket, you do run the risk of that overheating and thus that could cause potentially a fire. So what we want to do is help help customers prevent accidents around their home or in their motor car, as well as protect them in the event of an accident. And I think when we look forward around insurance and how insurance is modernising, it's taking that digital side, the data side, connected devices and friendly content and actually helping customers understand risks around home and around their motor vehicles and then their boat, for example, and help prevent those accidents. But also when something does happen, like a flood or a storm, we're very quickly on hand to help that claim get underway and help them get back to their everyday lives. And I think that's the window of opportunity around insurance. We know we're lucky here in New Zealand and the Pacific. People appreciate insurance and what we want to do is really modernize that experience. So it's simple, it's easy and it's valued and it lets you get on with your everyday jobs.

Paul: [00:10:33] Yeah, I was going to say as well, I mean, do you think then that risk mitigation is now going to have to become part of pretty much all insurers offerings? Do you think it's going to have to be part of the package, so to speak?

Blair: [00:10:43] I think it does pull. And I think also it's not just mitigating risk. It's helping people understand them, help people try and reduce them, but also do in such a way that it's environmentally friendly and sustainable and that we're actually leaving a bit of a lesser footprint than when we started the day. And we're wanting to do that little things like whether I mentioned the Go camera app before, what we want to do is add in carbon tracking in the future as well so that you can understand if I drive around fast all the time, I'm going to give off a bigger carbon emissions as opposed to doing small, smoother driving. Of course, using EVs, you're going to reduce those emissions. And there's also things you can do around the house. We're encouraging through our policies. We offer some sustainability benefits so that when if you're having to rebuild part of your home, we'll give you actually we'll give you some some monies to use environmentally friendly materials as opposed to potentially building materials that are less supportive of the environment. So we're looking at ways constantly where we can actually help reduce the footprint and we can support customers and communities to offer a more sustainable future.

Paul: [00:11:50] Some fantastic advice there. Blair, it's been great to have you with us. Huge congratulations again to you and to tower insurance on the general insurer of the year title. And so everybody watching. We'll see you next time here on insurance business TV.