United Insurance Group (UIG) has been growing quietly and steadily since forming in 2008 but is now looking ahead to the next stage of its development.
Some 15 years ago a group of eight authorised representatives (ARs) decided to break away and set up their own licence-holding entity, and UIG was born. It now boasts 35 corporate ARs (more than 100 individual representatives) placing $120 million in annual premium.
September’s highly successful conference held in Noosa brought the group’s members together with underwriters and premium funders, who are increasingly recognising UIG as a significant distribution partner.
The theme of the conference was Beyond, and the group’s leadership is now looking to enable the next stage of development – putting key measures in place to support current ARs and attract new ones.
“The initial idea behind UIG was to service the needs of a small group of ARs that were looking for a licensee,” General Manager Trevor Howard tells insuranceNEWS.com.au.
“It was one of those stories where a note was passed around the room on the back of a coaster, a bunch of people turned up and a round of drinks was bought, and we shook hands and agreed to start our own licence.
“But the business has grown over time. It’s now quite a significant size and started to develop its own personality and profile, built on the core of people who started. The feedback we’re getting is that the way our network operates has a lot of strengths.”
Mr Howard says UIG ARs are highly experienced, and have specialist expertise across a range of sectors from SME to heavy motor through to large industrial risks. Its stronghold is Victoria, but it also has a presence in NSW and Queensland.
UIG is a Steadfast network member, but privately owned, and despite its growth it has maintained its individuality and family feel. Mr Howard met with all prospective ARs before they joined to make sure the cultural fit was right.
“The easiest thing we could have done would have been to just add a lot of people on, but we’ve been quite particular about the individuals that we’ve met with.
“It’s as much about making sure that we’re the right fit for their business, rather than just them being a good fit for us. So it’s taken us 15 years to be an overnight success.”
While it’s been happy so far for its success to slip under the radar, UIG now sees an opportunity to take the business to the next level. Greater investment in support services and technology is a priority, with part of the group set to move onto Steadfast’s Insight broker platform, and investigations into customer relationship management systems and cloud-based solutions under way.
Key appointments have also been made, with Paul Mattiassi joining earlier this year as Broker Services Manager, and Kim Summerill coming on board as Finance Manager.
“We’re adding to the corporate expertise to recognise the fact that we are a much larger business and also to allow us to continue to grow,” Mr Howard says.
“We’ve realised that we want to invest in technology to support the existing growth and if we invest a little bit more, it can take us beyond where we are.
“It will allow the existing group to do more, but it’ll also be of interest to other people from the outside.”
Mr Howard is keen to include UIG ARs in the journey, and has set an initial target of hitting $200 million in premium.
“We’ve always treated our ARs as partners, so we want the existing group of ARs to come along with the business as we continue to grow, and we also welcome the opportunity to invite others to become partners in the business.
“Our focus in the short term is maximising our placement with the underwriting partners that we do have and making more out of that.
“But that might create other opportunities that we can explore – tailored facilities, which can help support the existing AR group as well as being an attraction to new ARs.”
Mr Howard is proud of what UIG and its members have been able to achieve in 15 years. But the future is even more exciting.