In these CEO Connect messages, Ty Birkett provides an oversight of high-level issues and developments.
I am pleased to be writing my first Unimutual update since taking the role of CEO of Regis Mutual Management, the managers of Unimutual, in January. I will provide a personal update every couple of months that complements the various technical and day-to-day information the team provides. My brief updates will provide you with a regular oversight of the high-level issues and initiatives throughout the year.
While I still have a few months left to use the “I am new” excuse, I am fortunate enough to have been involved with Unimutual for the last seven years and am delighted to take on the role and join the strong and experienced team. Being “only new” has allowed me to engage with brokers, Members, and other stakeholders, to get a good understanding of both the benefits of Unimutual and some of the challenges faced.
One of the best explanations I have heard of Unimutual’s role was from a Member that said “Unimutual is an enabler”. They didn’t mean of bad behaviour, quite the opposite. Unimutual enables the sector to do what it does, and do it at its best – whether that includes research, teaching, student accommodation and facilities, commercial enterprise, or day-to-day operations. The ability to pool and transfer risk is just one of the tools in an overall approach to risk management that enables our Members to effectively manage their organisations.
Unimutual is a partner all year round to various people in various parts of Member organisations. But conversations naturally get more interesting in the lead up to the renewal of protections at 31 October each year. This was particularly true after the increase in contribution rates last year, which in many instances saw a reversion to levels not seen since 2012.
The increases were driven by a number of key factors in combination: a dramatic hardening in parts of global reinsurance markets; the continuation of poor results for Australian commercial insurance (which provides some of our capacity); a number of severe Unimutual claims; and the prudent (given the uncertain conditions) decision by the Unimutual Board to target a balanced budget for 2018/19. This presented a unique and challenging environment, and we will work with brokers and Members in a transparent and open manner through the year to keep them abreast of our expectations for 2019 renewal.
In the meantime, we continue to work with you and for you. Personally, I see many of the Unimutual’s strengths – as a Member-owned organisation – as resulting from Member feedback. Whether this arrives one-on-one or through the various forums and committees in place, it allows us to develop, evolve, and better serve your needs. Please do not hesitate to contact myself or the team to discuss any matters – we are always grateful to hear from you.
An unmistakable feature of Australia is the variety of weather and weather-related claims that come with summer. Australia saw the usual array of cyclones, storms, and bushfires this summer, the two most significant being the storms in Sydney in December and the floods in Townsville in January/February, both resulting in over $1 billion of insured losses. Fortunately, Unimutual did not receive any significant claims for either event.
Overall, our FY2019 weather claims are tracking below our long-term average, thanks to the location and nature of the recent events falling in Unimutual’s favour. As many remember, we were not as fortunate in 2018 when weather and campus locations where more closely aligned!
A number of storm claims in my first two months have shown me the prompt and flexible handling of claims and the strength of the Members-first Unimutual model.
Read more about recent emerging risks here.
Chief Executive Officer, Regis Mutual Management Ltd