Bro­ker main­tains val­ley fo­cus

Alpine Observer - - Front Page - By JAMIE KRONBORG

GE­OFF Hall be­lieves Ovens Val­ley In­sur­ance Bro­kers’ clear fo­cus on its core mar­ket – the peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties of the three alpine val­leys – con­tin­ues to set it apart.

Two decades have passed since OVIB was es­tab­lished as a re­sult of a merger be­tween Mr Hall’s Ge­off Hall and As­so­ci­ates and Gra­ham Broster’s Myrtle­ford In­sur­ance Bro­kers in 1997.

“We’ve al­ways had a strong em­pha­sis on be­ing lo­cal and sup­port­ing the val­ley,” he said.

“The amal­ga­ma­tion of the two bro­ker­ages was a good move and we’ve since been go­ing from strength to strength ev­ery year.”

Mr Broster re­tired about eight years ago and Mr Hall has sub­se­quently en­cour­aged new part­ners into the firm.

Cur­rent claims man­ager Jacki Cos­sor started with OVIB in 2008 and later be­came a di­rec­tor.

She has mid-year taken a step back, en­abling Katie Paul to be­come a di­rec­tor after she was ap­proached to join the bro­ker­age – start­ing in Myrtle­ford in Jan­uary.

Steven Prince, the other cur­rent di­rec­tor, came to OVIB in Jan­uary 2016 after a ca­reer in business de­vel­op­ment man­age­ment with Al­lianz and ear­lier roles with some lead­ing re­gional bro­kers.

OVIB ac­count as­sis­tants Carmel Ardern and Sarah Purss com­plete the OVIB team.

“The dif­fer­ence with us is that the client comes to us and we act for them,” Mr Prince said.

“We eval­u­ate what they need, what their sit­u­a­tion is.

“Whether it’s some­thing straight­for­ward or ma­jor, we can put a whole pack­age to­gether.

“We can place par­tic­u­lar and ex­ten­sive types of risk and can give our clients ad­vice and rec­om­men­da­tions across all in­sur­ance prod­ucts which they need.”

Mr Hall said all claims were also han­dled in OVIB’s Myrtle­ford of­fice.

“We process our clients’ claims here and we put those claims back through lo­cal sup­pli­ers,” he said.

“We also go to lo­cal trades­peo­ple – builders and panel beat­ers – to carry out re­pairs as a re­sult of claims and I es­ti­mate we in­ject up to $1.5 mil­lion per year back into lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties in this way.

“This is un­like a lot of other in­sur­ers who nom­i­nate where claim re­pairs will be car­ried out.

“With us the client we’ve ar­ranged the in­sur­ance for nom­i­nates where the re­pairs will be done.”

Ms Paul said the OVIB’s per­sonal and di­rect man­age­ment of any claim demon­strated the firm’s worth as a bro­ker.

“We run a claim from the start,” she said. “That’s our role.

“It can be a stress­ful time for some clients and one of our great­est as­sets is that we pro­vide a ded­i­cated claims ser­vice here from our Myrtle­ford of­fice – not from a call cen­tre in Mel­bourne or else­where.”

Mr Hall said any risk that could be in­sured could be con­sid­ered by OVIB.

“As Steve has said, we act on the client’s be­half, as op­posed to some of the big­ger in­sur­ers which are com­pa­nies act­ing on their be­half,” he said.

“They don’t al­ways have the av­enue to go out­side.

“But, with us, if some­one wants to cover a par­tic­u­lar risk we might go to half a dozen un­der­writ­ers that might source the risk.

“Their op­tions and quotes come back and we make rec­om­men­da­tions to our client.”

Mr Prince said ar­eas of li­a­bil­ity had be­come more com­plex in re­cent years which meant that OVIB’s work spread had be­come di­verse.

“Five to 10 years ago our in­sur­ance might have been di­vided gen­er­ally be­tween one third farm, one third house and con­tents and one third mo­tor ve­hi­cle cover, but it now it’s very dy­namic,” he said.

“The mar­ket has be­come more com­plex in ar­eas such as pro­fes­sional risk.

“There are a lot more con­sul­tants out there who need pro­fes­sional in­dem­nity, and then there’s in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy li­a­bil­ity and cy­ber in­sur­ance, where hack­ing poses a great risk in a business that han­dles, for ex­am­ple, sen­si­tive client data.

“It’s a risk you can’t re­ally see, phys­i­cally, but there’s cer­tainly more ex­po­sure to that now.”

Ms Paul said in­sur­ing risk in the tourist and vis­i­tor ac­com­mo­da­tion sec­tor was another area of growth.

Mr Prince said OVIB was part of an ex­ten­sive Aus­tralian “clus­ter group” of about 100 bro­kers which pooled in­sur­ance val­ued at about $3.5 bil­lion and shared in­for­ma­tion about risk place­ment.

“This means that there is in­vari­ably some­one who can cover a par­tic­u­lar risk,” he said.

PHOTO: Jenny Zam­per­oni

DI­VER­SITY: Ovens Val­ley In­sur­ance Bro­kers’ di­rec­tors Ge­off Hall, Steven Prince and Katie Paul (front, left) with staff Jacki Cos­sor, Carmel Ardern and Sarah Purss have a clear eye on lo­cal needs.

STRATE­GIC: Ovens Val­ley In­sur­ance Bro­kers’ di­rec­tors Katie Paul, Ge­off Hall and Steven Prince are build­ing the bro­ker­age business.

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