Heath Johnson says the value of a good insurance broker was never more obvious than in the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010-2011.
The complexity of the event was unparalleled in New Zealand’s history and the five main earthquakes in the series ranked collectively as the sixth biggest insurance event globally since 1980.
“The earthquakes were the most complex insurance event in New Zealand to date. It was evident that those people insured via the direct model struggled to settle their claims fairly, as opposed to those who had a broker advocating for them.
“The sheer scale of the disaster and lack of knowledge regarding entitlements created tremendous uncertainty, and the fallout around the worst cases continues to dog the industry today.”
It’s a perspective born of many years in insurance but, perhaps more importantly, from having worked in both sides of the local industry – as an insurer and broker.
Heath was a familiar face for us as Vero’s Business Development Manager charged with looking after Abbott Insurance Brokers for three years. Specialising in commercial and rural insurance, he became a valuable asset to in our day-to-day dealings with Vero and helped grow the business significantly.
When we floated the idea of Heath switching to the broker side and working for us in a greenfield start-up in Dunedin, Heath jumped at the opportunity.
He’s a strong advocate for the broker model and a great supporter of what we do and how we do it at Abbott Insurance Brokers.
“Having an advocate (your broker) who understands your needs as well as the market can make a significant difference. This may be ensuring you have the correct cover with the best available insurer, or assisting you at claim time to receive your entitlement.”
Heath says most people do not fully understand just how complex insurance is – the finer details of different products, coverage, insurers or pricing.
“When people place their insurance themselves via the direct model, they will have to take on the role of a broker and negotiate their own cover or claims.”
After working alongside us for three years, Heath said he could see how passionate our broker teams were about achieving the best results for clients, and how respected the company was in the industry and wider marketplace.
“Not being bound to any insurer, the Abbott team is always in a position to do the best for clients without having any outside factors at play. This showed me that the Abbott values were not just words written on paper; they were clearly lived on a daily basis.”
Raised and educated in Otago and Southland, Heath is excited to get back to his roots in his new role. He is currently training with the Christchurch team learning our systems and processes and will be moving to Dunedin to run our new office from March/April 2016.
We wish him every success in his new role.