The Underwriting Agencies Council (UAC) was formed in July 1998 by six agency heads who were concerned about the ramifications of legislative change on the future of underwriting agencies in Australia.
Clerp 6 was the forerunner of what was to become the Financial Services Reform Act that would require financial services providers to be licensed from 11 March 2004 and regulated by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC).
In 1998, Treasury and the Federal Government appeared unaware of the existence of underwriting agencies. Other insurance industry participants were licensed and regulated by the Insurance & Superannuation Commission, which was subsequently disbanded with the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA) regulating insurers and ASIC regulating intermediaries. Insurers, brokers and life insurance agents were regulated but underwriting agents flew under the radar and had not been caught by the licensing regime.
Agency representatives were concerned underwriting agencies would be “legislated into oblivion”. Six agencies got together to form UAC as a representative body to promote agencies’ interests in the same way ICA represents insurers and NIBA represents brokers.
UAC’s founding directors were Greg Bunt, Merv Cross, Roy Ellis, Graham Fisher, Rod Garnett, and Rob Mauldon (chair). Chris Harnett was appointed secretary and public officer.
UAC’s charter comprised three goals:
The founding members funded UAC’s creation and instructed a lawyer to work with Rob Mauldon and Roy Ellis on a submission to Treasury articulating the case for recognising and including agencies in the new regime.
Members made frequent trips to Canberra to campaign for underwriting agency recognition, but those representations were initially unsuccessful. A second submission was prepared and presented to Treasury and followed by more lobbying. UAC members’ persistence was finally rewarded as UAC progressively became recognised as an integral component of the industry.
Former ICA CEO Alan Mason and his team, who represented many of UAC’s capital providers, helped UAC greatly during that phase. UAC and ICA representatives had many one-on-one meetings and held several round table discussions.
After several years of lobbying, UAC became known as the voice for underwriters. The council began a long and productive association with ASIC’s then-FSR licensing and business operations director Pauline Vamos. She was responsible for developing the licensing and compliance regime and subsequent regulations, and had open communication channels to government and APRA.
Peter Nash and Roy Ellis frequently met Ms Vamos and her staff, which helped form ASIC’s view of the underwriting industry. UAC prepared a licensing kit for agencies, which helped members secure their licences. ASIC purchased the kits for use as internal training aids. Paul Lynam, Peter Nash and Roy Ellis conducted a training workshop for ASIC analysts with the responsibility of initially licensing underwriters and, later, ongoing compliance and regulation. During the process, all underwriting industry dialogue with ASIC was channelled through UAC.
UAC’s most significant and far-reaching initiative in enhancing the council was launching the UAC-NIBA joint underwriting expos, which enabled UAC members to present their credentials to brokers. The first expo, which had only about seven underwriting exhibitors, was in Newcastle in 1998.
Between 2004 and 2007, while Bob Lee was UAC chair, UAC made ground in enhancing its relationship with NIBA; developing a new code of practice; creating a UAC statement of purpose; developing a UAC newsletter; enhancing UAC’s reputation as a peak industry body; creating a PI initiative for members; and being vocal on the direct offshore foreign insurers (DOFI) issue.
In 2006, UAC focused on lifting its market profile generally and targeting brokers specifically. That was achieved through new advertising and branding, and an updated website. UAC also improved its interaction with government and regulators by making submissions to ASIC and Treasury on FSRA refinements.
In 2007, brokers were first able to log onto UAC’s website and find members to help them place difficult risks. UAC members participated in eight expos that year. UAC circulated nine newsletters and circulars to members and forwarded three submissions to various authorities. The board elected in December 2007 was Murray Rogash (chair), Chris Harnett, Martin McAvenna, David Porter, Tim Nash and Bob Lee. John Iles and Damien Coates were elected associate directors.
From December 2008, the board consisted of Murray Rogash (chair), David Porter, Tim Nash, Bob Lee, Martin McAvenna, John Iles, Damien Coates and Kurt Nilsen. Kevin Corkery and Frank van Rooy were elected associate directors. In February, chairman Murray Rogash resigned and Martin McAvenna was elected to fill the vacancy. Kevin Corkery was elevated to director.
Martin McAvenna continued as chair until October 2009, when a job change forced his resignation. After the December AGM, the board consisted of Damien Coates (chair), David Porter, William Legge, John Iles, Jo Lindsay-Eschbank, Martin McAvenna, Heath Amber, Kevin Corkery, and Frank Van Rooy.
In 2010, UAC and Lloyd’s formed a strategic alliance. Lloyd’s began participating in UAC member forums, held immediately before the regular underwriting expos around Australia, to provide UAC members with updates on Lloyd’s and market trends that may affect underwriting agencies.
After a tender process in 2010, during which five firms submitted capability statements, UAC selected Sydney-based Gillis Delaney Lawyers as its business partner to provide legal services. UAC appointed specialist professional risks broker MegaCapital as its business partner offering members a professional indemnity program.
In 2010, UAC created a three-year strategic plan, based on responses from members to a survey conducted during the 2009 renewals.
The plan focused on four key areas:
After the December 2010 AGM, the board consisted of Damien Coates (chair), Heath Amber, Frank Van Rooy, Linda King, John Iles, David Porter, William Legge and Jo Lindsay-Eschbank. Simon Trowell and Eric Richardson joined as associate directors.
In 2011, UAC continued to implement its strategic plan. In March, it appointed its first-ever general manager. William Legge took on the new role, which focused on spearheading the implementation of UAC’s strategic plan. After Mr Legge became general manager, Mr Richardson became a director and Lyndon Turner joined the board as an associate director, replacing a director who retired due to a job change.
In May 2011, UAC launched a new logo as part of a rebranding exercise. UAC positioned itself and its members as THE resource for brokers – the ‘go to’ organisation for brokers seeking access to specialist products offered by experts in the field through underwriting agencies. It also positioned itself as THE resource for its members.
In 2011, UAC formed strategic underwriting partnerships with Vero and The Hollard Insurance Company, which joined UAC’s principal strategic underwriting partner, Lloyd’s Australia.
In 2012, Bob Lee and Roy Ellis were presented with UAC lifetime achievement awards. In 2015, Paul Lynam was presented with a UAC lifetime achievement award.
The board elected in December 2011 UAC board consisted of John Iles (chair), Heath Amber, Jo Lindsay Eshbank, Frank Van Rooy, Eric Richardson, Linda King, Lyndon Turner and Peter Fryer. Matt Boon and Adrian Humphreys (representing Lloyd’s) were associate directors. (Damien Coates did not stand for re-election after being posted to London with his agency Dual.)
After the December 2012 AGM, the board comprised John Iles (chair), Heath Amber (vice chair), Jo Lindsay-Eschbank (secretary), Linda King (treasurer), Peter Bailey (who later resigned and was replaced by Anthony Porter), Lyndon Turner, Peter Fryer, Steve Boucher and associate director Adrian Humphreys.
At the December 2013 AGM, Kurt Nilsen and Peter Marshall were elected to the board and Lyndon Turner and Peter Fryer were re-elected. Greg Thompson was invited to join as an associate director. Heath Amber became chair, with Lyndon Turner as deputy. Other board members were Jo Lindsay-Eschbank (secretary), Linda King (treasurer) and Steve Boucher. Adrian Humphreys remained an associate director.
At the December 2014 AGM, David Lamb (Sportscover) and Emily Walker (Axis) joined the board. Chair Heath Amber (Millennium) and treasurer Linda King (Sterling) were re-elected. Two directors, Jo Lindsay-Eschbank (SUA) and Steve Boucher (Sportscover), retired and did not nominate for re-election. Peter Fryer (Catlin) became company secretary, replacing Jo.
In December 2015, Lyndon Turner became chair and Kurt Nilsen deputy chair. Heath Amber stepped down as chair, but remained on the board.
After the December 2016 AGM, chair Lyndon Turner (NM) and deputy chair Kurt Nilsen (Lion) retained their roles. Retiring directors Heath Amber (Millennium), Emily Walker (Axis) and Linda King (Sterling) were returned and Simon Lightbody (Steadfast Agencies) and Rhys Mills (Solution) were elected as new directors.
In December 2017, Lyndon Turner, Kurt Nilsen and Peter Fryer were re-elected to the board. A new director, Eric Lowenstein (Tego), joined the board. Retiring director Rhys Mills did not stand for re-election; other directors serving two-year terms were not required to stand. Lyndon remained chair, Kurt deputy chair, Peter company secretary, and Linda treasurer.
At the December 2018 AGM, Simon Lightbody (Steadfast Underwriting Agencies); Heath Amber (Millennium); and Emily Walker (Axis) were re-elected for two-year terms. An additional vacant board role was filled by Trent Brown (Allstate Underwriting) after Linda King (Sterling) elected not to renominate. At a board meeting after the AGM, Lyndon Turner was re-elected as chair; Kurt Nilsen as deputy chair; Peter Fryer was elected treasurer; and Heath Amber was elected company secretary and public officer.
In December 2019, retiring directors Kurt Nilsen (Lion) and Eric Lowenstein (Tego) were re-elected for two-year terms. Jeanene Hill (Canopius) and Anthony Porter (AFA) were elected as new directors.
In a board meeting after the AGM, Kurt Nilsen was elected chair, Emily Walker (Axis) was elected deputy chair, Trent Brown (Allstate) treasurer and Heath Amber (Millennium) company secretary and public officer.
Outgoing chair Lyndon Turner and fellow former board member Peter Fryer (Brooklyn) did not re-contest their board positions. Current board members Heath Amber, Simon Lightbody, Emily Walker and Trent Brown were not required to stand for re-election.
At the December 2020 AGM, Heath Amber, Emily Walker, Simon Lightbody and Trent Brown were re-elected as directors. Each will serve a two-year term. At a board meeting after the AGM, office bearers were re-elected to the same roles as with the previous board.
At the December 2021 AGM, directors Kurt Nilsen, Jeanene HiIl and Anthony Porter were re-elected to the board and joined by Mike Edmonds. At a board meeting after the AGM, office bearers were reappointed to their former executive roles.
At the December 2022 AGM, directors Heath Amber, Emily Walker and Simon Lightbody were re-elected and joined by Colin Fagan. At a board meeting after the AGM, Kurt Nilsen, who remains on the board, stepped down as chair and was replaced by Heath Amber. Mike Edmonds was appointed deputy chair; Simon Lightbody, director finance/treasurer; and Emily Walker, company secretary and public officer. Retiring director Trent Brown was appointed an associate director and assistant treasurer.