CEO Connect #9: Update on Member engagement and renewal expectations

Renewal Update FAQs – August 2020
August 12, 2020
Focusing on Cyber
August 19, 2020
Renewal Update FAQs – August 2020
August 12, 2020
Focusing on Cyber
August 19, 2020

CEO Connect #9: Update on Member engagement and renewal expectations

In these CEO Connect messages, Ty Birkett provides an oversight of high-level issues and developments.

Dear Member,

Before I write this, I always check what I wrote last time: my June update started with “while restrictions are starting to relax …”. In my defence, it did then talk about the level of uncertainty, but it is now clear that a return to “normality” is some way off..

I can’t think of a time in the last few decades when predicting anything one or two years into the future has been so challenging. The health and economic toll to date is already significant; the full extent is harder to envisage. We wish all our Members and broking partners well – personally and professionally – as you navigate these trying times and make some very difficult decisions.

We are very aware of the uncertainty and various pressures you are currently facing. Unimutual exists – solely – for the success and resilience of Australia’s higher education and research sector. This is our sole focus and guiding principle across everything we do. In times such as these, that singular purpose comes into sharp focus. We are here to support your organisation – call on us, and use the resources at hand to lighten your load.

My June update discussed managing resources and costs in the current environment, the challenges in the insurance and reinsurance sector, and the benefits of Unimutual. I wanted to take this opportunity to provide further update on Member engagement, renewal expectations and ongoing services and support.

Member Engagement

The Unimutual team continues to work remotely and it is now four months since we last met with a Member face to face! While missing the energy that we all get from physical visits, Member engagement has never been higher.

This high level of engagement is for a range of reasons including:

  • Changing environment: COVID-19 has had many impacts on day-to-day operations. We are engaging with Members around the implications and additional risk management considerations.
  • Tight resources: Staff at our Member institutions are being asked to do more with less at the moment, and I encourage you to continue to take advantage of Unimutual services. Thank you to everyone involved in collecting renewal information.
  • Virtual visits: On a positive note, replacing physical visits with virtual visits has had an upside. We are able to visit with a whole team rather than two or three people, and we are able to reach more Members in a shorter period of time. It has been a good forum for us to answer your questions or concerns.
  • Managing expectations: The discussion below is around the third consecutive year of significant rate increases. With many Members facing their most significant financial challenges ever, we are in regular discussions with Members and brokers about renewal. We are also discussing options around risk retention to help reduce the extent of increases.

Don’t hesitate to contact me or any of the team if you do want to catch up or discuss further.

Renewal Expectations

My June update explained the challenges in the insurance and reinsurance markets. Some Members have been briefed in detail by their brokers on what to expect; others have less day-to-day visibility of market conditions.

Once again, this year Peter Watts has put together a good summary of the current pricing pressures to help understand the reasons. To assist further, we have also put together a Frequently Asked Questions on renewal which answers a lot of questions we are getting asked – if you have more questions, please ask us as others may have them too.

While noting that Members’ risk profiles, exposures, claim experiences and retentions vary, our expectation for property protection at the last time of writing was for 2020 increases of even more than those in 2019. Unfortunately, this is still the expectation. We are also seeing a very strong push from reinsurers to make sure they are managing their overall exposure, particularly with regard to natural perils events.

Unimutual facilitates cyber and management liability cover for Members. These classes will also come under pressure at renewal, particularly management liability. Management liability cover includes D&O and Employment Practices Liability and these covers are seeing significant pricing increases and coverage restriction.

We are aware of the challenge that many of you face with regard to expense management. The FAQs do discuss ways to reduce the impact. We are happy to discuss in more detail based on individual circumstances.

Ongoing Services and Support

I commented above on the increased level of Member engagement this year. Unimutual is owned by its Members for the benefit of its Members. As such, we continue to look at ways to provide support that benefit all Members.

We encourage Members to take advantage of the collaborative nature of Unimutual. This includes the quarterly Member Forums; our open source resource portal, Unipedia; our regular webinar sessions as well as our planned September webinar series. You will also recently have seen resources, or perhaps been part of webinars or discussion groups, on controlled environments and coronavirus. Or you may have joined one of our regular ReSure User Groups session during the Data Collection period, or watched the ReSure system video tutorials.

I continue to encourage Members to engage and benefit from your mutual as we jointly navigate some of the biggest challenges for many years.

Please do not hesitate to contact me, or any of the team, at any stage.

Virtual Sessions – Webinar series

A highlight of the year for Unimutual is the annual conference. While disappointing that it has become another casualty of the current restrictions, we are still keen that the Members and brokers gain some of the benefits they normally get from attending.

As such, we will run four webinars in September, as well as a welcome event, to bring you an update from Unimutual, interesting speaking guests, a market perspective and networking opportunities.

You recently received an invitation to join us for the Virtual Sessions in September (any issues, please contact us). This is a session at 11.30am every Thursday in September. There will be plenty of opportunity for questions and engagement, and we hope to see many of you there.


Ty Birkett

Chief Executive Officer, Regis Mutual Management Ltd

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