CEO Gary Dransfield opening remarks to the House of Representatives Economic Committee Inquiry


Today our CEO of Insurance appeared before the House of Representatives Economic Committee Inquiry into Australia’s General Insurance Industry.


CEO Gary Dransfield opening remarks to the House of Representatives Economic Committee Inquiry

Thank you Chair.

On behalf of Suncorp, I welcome this opportunity to update you on how we are looking after our customers, our people and communities – both today as we face the extraordinary circumstances of COVID-19 and every day as our customers navigate life’s difficult circumstances.

Suncorp Group is a leading financial services provider of general insurance and banking services with nine million customers across Australia and New Zealand.

I lead the Australian Insurance arm, which offers insurance products through our well-recognised brands including Suncorp, AAMI, GIO, Apia, Shannons and Vero, as well as those from our partners.

I am joined today by Michael Miller, our Executive General Manager, Motor, Property and Specialty Claims.

Supporting our customers and giving them peace of mind is why we exist. Every day our people make this happen by delivering on our promise to our customers when they make a claim.

The Royal Commission showed the insurance industry needed to do better for its customers. 

In response, Suncorp acted quickly, putting in place a range of measures which have resulted in improved outcomes for our customers. 

We are well underway with a range of initiatives relating to culture, risk, dealing with vulnerable customers and consumer complaints, and working with the Government to design and implement key reforms.

Suncorp has delivered an industry-leading claims response to the past summer of natural disasters. As we know, this included catastrophic bushfires, but also significant storms.

Our Customer Support Teams were deployed to fire-affected communities as soon as it was safe. These teams include an army of Suncorp claims specialists, who spent many weeks living in bushfire-affected areas speaking with our customers face-to-face.

Being based alongside our customers in these communities was invaluable to help them lodge their claims, access emergency funds and temporary accommodation, and help them get their lives back on track as quickly as possible. 

Both Michael and I visited a number of these devastated communities to meet with our customers, including as part of community forums where customers could meet their dedicated client manager.

I am pleased to say we have settled 70 per cent of our property claims and almost 80 per cent of motor claims which has led to a $160 million injection into bushfire-impacted local economies.

All Suncorp home building insurance products are designed to preserve the sum insured for rebuilding costs, or in the case of AAMI Complete Replacement Cover, there is no sum insured limitation on rebuilding costs. 

Our customers who lost their homes, on average, received around 25 per cent above their sum insured, representing allowances like removal of debris and temporary accommodation.

Turning to our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Suncorp has been pro-active in developing SME and consumer relief measures to help those navigating the unfolding economic harm.

Last week we announced a Peace of Mind Package for our home and car insurance customers which acknowledged both the financial and emotional strain the situation is having on many Australians. 

Those customers experiencing financial hardship can access discounts of up to 20%, or three-month premium waivers.

We are also providing free counselling sessions for our customers and their families. Accompanying this package was our AAMI free Roadside Assist offer for medical staff and first responders, including for non-customers.

Our Small Business relief measures include six-month insurance premium deferrals for SMEs, together with continuity of cover for unoccupied premises.

Finally, Suncorp remains a strong advocate for measures that improve the affordability and accessibility of insurance. These include:

  • The removal of taxes and duties from property insurance policies;
  • Greater investment to strengthen natural disaster resilience of buildings and communities; and
  • Changes to planning laws to reduce construction in high-risk areas and requiring improved resilience measures for new construction. 
We believe investment in economic infrastructure that reduces the impact of natural disasters will result in a stronger economy, safer communities, and will reduce cost of living pressures through lower insurance premiums.

Government investment in public infrastructure can have a real impact on insurance affordability. 

Following construction of the flood levee in Roma, for instance, Suncorp customers received premium reductions of up to 90%, and we routinely reduce premiums where specific public and private resilience works are undertaken.

We welcome any opportunity to work with all governments on these initiatives.

I hope this insight has been useful and I welcome any questions.

Thank you again Chair.

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