Established in 1984, Willis Temby is a highly respected, professional broking house with a wealth of knowledge and experience, specialising in Commercial, Corporate and Professional Risks, Commercial Marine, General and Rural Insurance.
Executive Director Brett Piggott began his position with the company in 2000, after a decade working in senior underwriting and business relationship management positions with a number of high-profile insurance companies across Australia. Willis Temby Insurance Brokers has established a market leading presence in the specialised area of general insurance, and fills its role as an industry custodian with pride, pursuing the underlying goal to ‘Educate, Advocate and Inspire Confidence’. Mr Piggott speaks to us about his personal history in the insurance industry, the specialist sectors that Willis Temby handles, and the need for a collaborative approach between the industry and its regulators to continue protecting the consumer.
“Willis Temby Insurance Brokers was established in 1984,” Mr Piggott says. “It’s a privately-owned company, and we specialise in commercial and corporate complex risks, predominantly from referral only.”
Based in Perth, Western Australia, the service the company provides, spans Australian and overseas placements for global corporate entities, constantly comparing the merits of competing insurance companies to find the best package for the client.
Mr Piggott didn’t fall into the industry by accident, targeting it early on as a suitable career path: “I’m a country boy, from southwest WA. In my teens I was a fairly aspirational individual, and targeted a career in financial services. I made the concerted effort to get into the industry.”
Starting out working with a general insurer, at the young age 20, Mr Piggott discovered the benefits of mentorship on his career choices, and he admits to experiencing life-changing events which set him off on the course his career would take him.
“Through that journey, I relocated to the east coast of Australia, transferred there by National General Insurers, before returning to Western Australia. In 2000, at the age of 30, I was provided an opportunity to acquire part ownership of Willis Temby. I felt it was a great opportunity to take on.”
At that time, Mr Piggott began to question the merits of working for shareholders of a national insurer. He wanted to work in the interests of the consumer, offering advisory services that would provide a greater degree of job satisfaction.
Most general insurance brokers provide coverage across a broad spectrum of industries and product lines. Willis Temby differs as it provides additional and tailored coverage across specialty lines.
“We specialise in the sectors of financial risk, which includes professional indemnity and directors and officers liability insurance; liability risk, which everyone would know [as] public and products liability insurance, on the basis that most businesses would carry that form of insurance.”
In addition, the company also operates in the very highly specialised sector of maritime risk, which includes commercial hull insurance and protection and indemnity insurance, covering vessels out on the open water and the liabilities attached to their use.
“Some years ago, in early 2000, it was clearly identified that there was a shortcoming in the industry where specialised broking services were provided to specific sectors. Professional indemnity was one of those risks that was still emerging in Australia, so it wasn’t receiving a lot of attention from brokers.”
At that time, many brokers were reluctant to get involved in this class of insurance due to the level of complexity involved in its placement, which can have a big impact on a broking firm, particularly in the professional services and advice it delivers.
“Since 2000, that product has developed further,” Mr Piggott says. “We found early in the peace that it was our time and we had the level of expertise to be able to expand in that sector, and then develop a standing within the market on that.”
The sector has had more brokers gravitating towards it in the years since, and there is certainly more awareness, though there remains just a limited number of specialists working in that area.
“If you take our core clientele, it is commercial and corporate complex risk, [with] ten plus employees, who require and appreciate dedicated advice and services. Over the journey we’ve gravitated towards the financial sectors, because of professional indemnity insurance and the manner in which most of those sectors require that protection.”
As an offshoot of that, because Willis Temby has always operated in the area of complex risk, we tend to receive business that is harder to place, with approaches for services on all aspects, but particularly the sector covering liability, professional indemnity and maritime.
“Because we’re located in Western Australia,” Mr Piggott explains, “and the amount of resource action that we have here in WA, it means that we’re heavily focussed within that, along with related sectors.”
When it comes to insurance, members of the general public will usually choose the most relevant or affordable policy, and not really review at it again until the following renewal or an event occurring requiring the lodgement of a claim. Mr Piggott says there are dangers attached to that approach.
“It’s one of those little pitfalls that occur if you haven’t got the correct advisory services supporting your decision making. Education is number one for us – making sure that not only are you educating your team members, but also the education of clients, making sure they are provided the services where they can make a value decision on acquiring a policy.”
Team members must be educated in giving the correct advice and the most up-to-date feedback to their clients in relation to the market. Clients must understand the coverage they are acquiring under that policy, and the associated costs of the acquisition.
“By just buying a policy then shelving it, and not having a clear understanding of it – it’s not a good value policy. You’re not understanding the value of what you’re receiving. It’s not until the time of a claim that you’re going to understand the true value of that policy.”
The insurance market is currently in a hardening cycle, something everybody in the industry is experiencing, which has been triggered by concurrent local and global influences including Lloyds of London cracking down on poor performing risks.
“Lloyds of London has been a big supporter of the Australian market, and have more recently done a review internally that has meant they’ve pulled back on certain industries – they’ve pulled back on the capacity to be able to write high limits, increased restrictions on the ability to write business and put further exclusions and conditions on policy(s). But also, importantly, they have increased rates and premiums.”
These measures are having a significant impact on everybody working in the insurance industry in Australia and no longer simply apply to the Lloyds market, but have extended to Australian insurers, resulting in a correction within their books of business.
“That’s having a significant impact on businesses. The Greensill Capital collapse, which is a more recent issue in the headlines, is an example of the general insurance industry impacting the continuity of business through reduced market availability for insurance cover”.
The industry is still emerging from the Australian government’s recent Haynes Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, putting the sector heavily under the spotlight.
As a big advocate for the industry and the protection of its consumers, Mr Piggott believes it is vital for the industry and its regulators to embrace a collaborative position in order to continue consumer protection.
“[The industry] is actually under a lot of regulatory pressure at the moment,” Mr Piggott concludes, “and it would be good if a collaborative relationship continues, because we can co-exist. It’s a time to evolve together and remain relevant.”
With a commitment to educating both staff and clients on choosing the best insurance policy for a range of requirements, Willis Temby Insurance Brokers is ensuring consumers are protected. Find out more about Willis Temby by visiting www.willistemby.com.au.