Australia, Finance, Industry News

UAA’s Renewed Customer focus

Since Steadfast Group’s announcement of the merger of mobile plant and equipment insurance companies Underwriting Agencies of Australia (UAA) and MECON, the focus has been on increasing the efficiencies of the organisations and enhancing their abilities to service customers more effectively. 

With the retirement of Michael ‘Murf’ Murphy and the appointment of Stan Alexandropoulos as Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the new executive team is focused on realising greater efficiencies across both organisations.

New appointments have been made to UAA’s executive team including the appointment of Marc Crossman as Group Strategy and Distribution Manager and Jane King as Group Chief Underwriting Officer. Marc has a wealth of experience with UAA having headed the company’s Southern Region, and prior to this their Singapore operation for many years, along with managing the South Australian and Northern Territory businesses.

UAA Group CEO Stan Alexandropoulos says  these are exciting times for the businesses, with the two brands complementing each other and both focused on a customer-first approach.

“When we look at the brands, we see they are recognised in the market for very different strengths. UAA is recognised for its strength in mobile plant and machinery insurance, including cranes, whereas MECON holds a much tighter focus on contracts works insurance. One thing that both brands have in common though is that they are both recognised market leaders in their specialty fields.”

“We brought the two groups together because we felt there was an opportunity to complement and leverage from each other’s strengths in the market, as well as utilising the sales force at UAA to assist in increasing MECON’s footprint in the market”, he said. 

Marc Crossman, UAA’s Group Strategy and Distribution Manager.

“We created Marc’s role to place a focus on an integrated relationship between the two organisations and assist the Business Development Managers (BDMs) to see the business as a group rather than have UAA and MECON working in silos” said Stan. 

“Marc’s role is very important in bringing all that together. His role will also incorporate our strategy around marketing and make sure we have a level of consistency regarding branding and marketing across the group. That will include branding and marketing across our global businesses as well, including Singapore and New Zealand and our new ventures including Canada.”

Emphasising the need for consistency across the two businesses is paramount, with UAA’s CEO highlighting the important role Marc will play in advertising and marketing to ensure the same messaging is consistent whichever business is being spotlighted.

As well as appointing the new Group Strategy and Distribution Manager, Stan highlighted how the business is streamlining its claims reporting process through Chief Claims and Services Officer George Grasso. This highlights his desire to ensure there are similar processes and procedures in place across the board, whilst also allowing for the differences within the two businesses to complement each other.

“MECON have certain skills within their claims department that UAA don’t have and vice versa. They’re very good on, for instance, the personal injury liability side of things and, being in construction, that’s a big part of the claims that they have whereas UAA don’t have as many,” said Stan.

“Additionally, it gives us scope and scale. We have a large team at the moment and it’s a team we’ve increased dramatically, and we will continue to increase the head count and the experience within our claims team. It’s all about being adequately resourced to provide a superior service to our customers.” he said.

With more than 30 years of experience in the insurance, repair, assessing and loss adjusting industries, George Grasso is well qualified to speak about how UAA and MECON plan to increase capabilities within UAA, stating the company was “doubling our size in claims” to “accommodate the group’s growth”.

George Grasso, UAA’s Chief Claims and Services Officer.

“Mecon’s current contractors, plant and equipment portfolio is in the process of being transferred to UAA, so we are increasing our staff numbers in claims to best service our customers on those additional claims, as well as meet the additional regulatory requirements due to a greater focus on compliance by the industry regulatory bodies. The aim and goal is to provide the best clams service in the mobile plant and contract works industry”, said George.

“We’re also increasing our resources in underwriting across the nation and we’re investing heavily in new technologies and systems which will enable us to be far more transparent with our customers for both underwriting and claims services. We are investing in technologies that will make the claims and underwriting process much easier because, at the moment, everything is such a manual process,” he continued. 

“The technology that we’re moving into is going to allow our customers to have information and tools at their fingertips on both an underwriting and claims perspective. We want to be able to provide incredible service to our customers, to the insurance brokers and the policy holders themselves,” said George. 

According to Stan, expanding the teams at both UAA and MECON is important for future growth.

“George regularly says from a clients’ perspective the claims department is our shopfront, and if we get that right, we are pretty much 80 per cent of the way there. That is why we’re doubling the size of our claims team. We want to get to a level of service where we are well and truly over and above everybody else.

“But we’re not just increasing headcount, we have made a conscious decision to hire experienced and seasoned staff. We are increasing our experience within the teams and moving to a state-based system. 

“In the past our claims team has been centralised in Newcastle and we have realised the talent pool in Newcastle has become limited. So we will hire the best candidate regardless of where they are and they will have the opportunity to be based in one of our regional and state-based offices. That’s the way we’re going to work it from now on,” said Stan.

Another significant development is the increased role and responsibility for UAA’s Jane King.

“Another significant change involves our colleague Jane King, who is currently our Group Chief Underwriting Officer” said Stan.

Jane King UAA’s Group Chief Underwriting Officer.

“Jane is going to take control of the underwriters’ operations. This means the Australian Regional Managers and Operations Managers will report to her placing a focus on our underwriting performance and our underwriting results,” he said.

“Effectively, we want to make sure we are responsible for our underwriting results whilst maintaining a sustainable future of insurance for our customers”, said Stan.

“From a MECON perspective, it’s important that we maintain portfolio performances also, so we can continue to offer clients the products at more sustainable premiums. Over the years, we’ve made a point of looking after our securities and we have never lost one. Whereas our competitors and underwriting agencies regularly change securities because it gets to a point where it becomes unsustainable for the security, and they need to look for new markets.

“Jane is going to be responsible for the management of the portfolio globally, and she will implement focussed strategies and pricing around key areas that may not be performing and work on strategies on how to reduce risks for the customer and also the insurance company for that matter,” said Stan.

“These strategies will be based on algorithms that determine the appropriate rates and premiums which are put in place for a sustainable industry. Other insurers apply one large rate and rate increases across the board, whereas our business is heavily focused on where the risks are and the appropriate rates for those risks and how they should be applied.

“No two crane companies are the same and no two machines are the same. There’s a lot of science and actuarial work around geographic risk, the types of occupational hazards associated with client activities, the client’s exposure and experience in the industry and the rates are applied accordingly. Our new structure and approach is focused on the individuality of a company, the risks associated with the work they conduct and the premiums associated with the cover required for this work,” said Stan.

“We are implementing a number of changes and we are confident our customers are going to see big improvements in the programs we are offering. There will be significant improvement in the claims services area as well our sales service. The technology we are implementing will be a game changer and enable UAA and MECON to provide an insurance package and service which is second to none,” said Stan.  

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