General Insurance deepens commitment to supporting vulnerability


Founding Partner,  Annabelle Butler (Suncorp) shares how General Insurance is deepening commitment to customers experiencing vulnerability.

General Insurance deepens commitment to supporting vulnerability

4 min read

With 22 years of experience in the insurance industry, Annabelle is deeply passionate about the role of insurance in supporting financial resilience and community wellbeing.  

 A key premise of our Thriving Communities Partnership (TCP) is to draw from the knowledge and experience of other sectors so we can access new insights for growth of the insurance sector.

Through our continued involvement with the TCP, the general insurance industry has benefited from the ability to access thought leadership across the water, banking and energy sectors, which today allows us to formulate new and higher standards regarding how general insurers work with customers who are experiencing vulnerability.

5 years ago, the general insurance sector rarely encountered customers and third parties who were experiencing vulnerability.  The main type of vulnerability we saw, or at least understood, was financial hardship. So, in our 2014 General Insurance Code of Practice we prescribed high standards for how the industry would work with people experiencing financial hardship.  This was an important first step for our sector, and in many ways, has laid a critical foundation to declare our values and commitment to supporting vulnerable communities.  

“As an industry which often sees customers at their most vulnerable (after a claimable event) it’s important that we can do all that we can to ensure that we are there for the moment that matters to them”.

However, as we stand today in 2018, we recognise that vulnerability extends far beyond financial hardship and subsequently we’re now working with customers who present with a range of complex needs arising from issues such as family violence and mental illness.  This evolution is now captured in our upcoming new General Insurance Code of Practice which introduces a new section; ‘Customers Experiencing Vulnerability’.  As an industry we’re very excited about this and we are proud of the progress we have made in this space.

"I think today’s insurers are far better at recognising and understanding social issues and because of that we’ve become more empathetic and responsive to the needs of people".

What I like about this change is the emphasis on requirements of insurers to ensure they have appropriate processes in place to support all customers who are experiencing vulnerability.  By taking a broad approach we’re recognising the fluid nature of vulnerability which necessitates an approach of continuous learning and adaptation.   Fundamentally though, it’s about making sure no one is left behind.

To support this commitment, we are creating specific guidance for general insurers in relation to mental illness and family violence.  This will help insurers to understand what they should consider when designing systems and processes to support customers, third parties and their own staff.  We also anticipate continued engagement with the Thriving Communities Partnership to collaborate across business, government and community so we can keep abreast of the issues and access inputs to shape our implementation.  

As an industry, we are proud of our Code of Practice.  To us it’s a reflection of our commitment to the community which goes far beyond the regulatory requirements that sit upon us.  It is a living document that is created with the input of community and because of this it remains responsive to the community’s changing needs and expectations.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those who have patiently worked with us on this change which marks an important step forward to strengthening our support for vulnerable communities.

Annabelle Butler: 

  • Executive Manager, Accessibility | Suncorp Group
  • Industry Chair, General Insurance Code of Practice 
Share this Post: