Insurance News Magazine – April/May 2023

Jenny Bax

From the Publisher

It’s about 10 years since Insurance News first heralded underwriting agencies as the “third force” in insurance. We weren’t wrong, but we were a decade or so premature in our assessment. Because in the insurance market of 2023, brokers ignore the underwriting agencies at their peril. 
Jenny Bax, the new Chief Executive of the Underwriting Agencies Council, is our cover subject this month, and the changing world of underwriting agencies dominates this edition. 
In the intensely hard market brokers are experiencing at present, it’s the insurers themselves who are in many cases underwriting the niche specialists’ business. That makes sense; it allows the insurers to focus on their direct market products and less complex broker-referred risks. For insurers, less complexity means better performance and happier directors. 
Ms Bax has experience and vision and has been appointed to – among many other things – intensify underwriting agencies’ links with brokers and the wider market.
Although the mainstream insurers may at present see the agencies as a useful supplementary market for risks they can’t or don’t want to handle, how long will it be before an agency that’s well supported by brokers and has an ambitious capacity provider decides to go after some of the mainstream’s market share? 
Insurance News Managing Editor John Deex recently spent time in the flood-ravaged region around the town of Lismore, speaking to residents and trying to get a feel for how things are going there. There are plenty of sad stories and some praise for insurance people, but also debate about the affordability and availability of flood insurance. 
John’s article lets people tell their stories, but points out the extraordinary number of serious floods that preceded the February/March 2022 event, and the inevitability of more to come. Some Lismore residents – including the mayor – say this flood was far larger than any that preceded it, and they won’t see another like it in their lifetimes. The last major flood to hit Lismore was in 2017. 
Whatever the solution to this town’s floodplain buildings issue is, it won’t be found in an insurance policy.


Terry McMullan