Industry veteran talks about new role at Vero New Zealand | Insurance Business New Zealand
Industry veteran talks about new role at Vero New Zealand
Business leader keen to head 120-strong team
Paul Gallop (pictured), who has been in the industry since 1981, has stepped up as acting chief customer officer at Vero New Zealand. Here the self-confessed insurance geek talks about his new remit and how policyholders have changed over the years.
Formerly executive manager for strategic broker partnerships at the intermediated insurer, Gallop took on the C-suite post following Campbell Mitchell’s appointment as incoming chief executive of Fidelity Life. Speaking with Insurance Business, Gallop said he felt very privileged to have been endorsed and picked for the interim role.
In his new capacity, Gallop leads Vero New Zealand’s 120-strong customer office. The team is accountable for the company’s general insurance strategic brokers and partnership relationship, supporting the end-to-end units led by executive general manager (EGM) for business Sacha Cowlrick and consumer EGM Jane Brewer.
“For me, it starts and stops with people. So, the external relationships – our partnerships with our corporate partners and our brokers – that’s probably the primary focus in my role,” Gallop said.
“We’ve got a massive growth agenda for FY24 (year ended June 30, 2024). We want to continue to grow our premium base and our customer base, and we’ve got these fabulous relationships across the different broker groups and corporate partners that I just want to see continue and flourish. That’s probably the number one opportunity.”
Aside from growing the business further, another area of focus for Gallop is ensuring “the right growth” as well.
“For me, that’s putting my underwriting hat on, rather than my sales hat, and working with our portfolio heads to say, ‘What’s the right growth?’” he said. “We’re growing at over 12%, which is fantastic, but is it the right stuff? Are we writing the right risks at the right place?
“I think the other nuance is that we can be really good about saying, ‘Hey, we don’t want to write a piggery at the back end of Timaru because that’s a really high fire risk’, but I think it’s much more positive to say the things we want to write and why.”
Citing Vero NZ’s depth of products and underwriting expertise, Gallop said it’s important to be clear about “what we’re good at and what we want to go for and where we can provide good customer outcomes” that are beneficial for the insurer as well.
Additionally, in Gallop’s view, it’s about engaging the right people within the business to work on the right growth opportunities.
As for the policyholder side, Gallop believes there’s an increased level of understanding among customers when it comes to insurance.
“If you look at the people of Canterbury after what they went through with all those earthquakes, they were kind of insurance experts at the end of that,” he told Insurance Business. “They didn’t want to be but they knew about EQC (Earthquake Commission), and they knew how their policy responded and knew about alternative accommodation. And I think the same thing is playing out in Hawke’s Bay and Auckland [following the floods].
“Through all those terrible events, that sophistication of the customer and client out there is getting better. And because we’re an [advice-led] business, that’s really uplifting and important that people understand what they’re buying. People have got much more understanding. Maybe at a barbecue there’ll be more insurance conversations rather than people bad-mouthing insurance. There’s more awareness.
“People can go online and do a lot of research, right? And they will, but generally what will happen is when they go to insure their most important asset, they want to pick up the phone or meet someone and talk to them and ask them about, ‘Am I doing the right thing? Am I setting the sum insured the right way?’”
For the acting chief customer officer, it’s a “really, really good thing” for New Zealand to have a higher standard of literacy and understanding about insurance.
“Excited about getting up in the morning and facing the traffic” to work with the customer team and Vero New Zealand’s partners, Gallop said he has a lot of ambition to keep looking after the company’s customers while continuing to grow the business.
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