November 28, 2023

Maintaining 2023’s Upward Trajectory: In Conversation with Jarrod O’Connor

Insights Australia

2023 has proved a phenomenal year for the Accident & Health division at Arch Insurance Australia. The team has achieved strong growth across Australia’s northern and southern regions, as well as in New Zealand and Fiji, while its online platform CoverHub has brought new products to the SME space. With 2024 looking set to continue this positive performance, we speak to Jarrod O’Connor, Underwriting Manager, Accident & Health.

Can you start by giving a short overview of the A&H team at Arch?
Our A&H division represents a team of highly experienced underwriters who have extensive knowledge of the sector and the needs of clients across both Australia as well as New Zealand and Fiji. We offer a comprehensive suite of products that extend from Marine, Yacht Crew, Group and Individual Personal Accident & Sickness cover through to Business Travel and expatriate and inpatriate medical expenses.

Arch is able to provide cover for individuals, programmes, facilities and associations of all sizes. We’re also able to offer cover through our online self-service portal CoverHub, offering our brokers quick quote and instant bind functionality and the ability to tailor coverage to meet specific client requirements. In 2023, we added our Individual Personal Accident & Sickness and Voluntary Workers insurance to the platform, with Journey set to roll out next month.

How would you describe the performance of the A&H team to date in 2023?
2023 has been an extremely productive year for the team as we have continued to deliver the highest possible level of services to brokers across the region. During the period, we’ve been able to deliver growth in excess of 30% across our portfolio, and during some months we’ve seen open-market growth of up to 150%.

It’s been a real success story – one which is down to several different factors. Firstly, our underwriting team has been firing on all cylinders. We have such a talented group of people who are fully committed to the needs of our brokers and their clients. That dedication has enabled us to broaden our footprint in both the northern and southern regions of Australia as well as across New Zealand and Fiji.

In addition, our online portal, CoverHub, continues to generate very positive results, giving us real growth particularly in the smaller sector of the SME space. The platform also enables us to achieve a much better balance across our portfolio in the process.

And looking towards 2024, what is the plan?
There’s no doubt that the A&H team is really on the move and in 2024 we’ll be looking to build on that momentum. We’ll be looking to continue to develop our service proposition for our brokers and further strengthen our position across Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. As part of that, we will be expanding our underwriting teams. In 2023, Lucy Wood joined as Northern Region Manager and under her stewardship we’ve achieved considerable success. So, it’s a case of watch this space as we plan to make an announcement in the not-too-distant future.

What would you say are the primary aspects of your team’s risk appetite?
The team is known for the breadth of products that we are able to write across the A&H sector. That scope of cover and depth of expertise means we can provide solutions that extend from business-related policies through to products for voluntary workers, yacht crews and amateur sports groups personal accident & travel. That makes us very much a one stop shop for all A&H risks.

How else would you say that Arch differentiates its offering in this market?
Another factor that sets us apart is the standard of service that we are committed to providing to our broking partners. 24-hour quoting along with our online Live Chat function, means that our speed to quote is helping our brokers and us get the edge in the market. In addition, we have also just released a new suite of wordings, offering updated and new covers, along with updated quote and policy schedules, to further improve the brokers’ experience when dealing with us. We continue to search for ways to make transacting with Arch more efficient, whilst never compromising on the quality of the product itself or level of service we provide.

Looking at wider market developments, how would you summarise current dynamics and what are some of the drivers?
The market is reasonably stable in the personal accident space, with rates staying consistent across both individual and group personal accident. In the travel and the expat/inpat medical space we continue to see rates rise in the aftermath of COVID. A large contributor to this is the continuing increase in overseas medical costs that the market is seeing, which is really putting upward pressure on rates, while the fact that the AUD has been weakening against the USD is also contributing to rising costs.

Another factor is the increase we have seen in premiums which has stemmed from a growing awareness by businesses of the value of travel insurance post COVID and the need to understand what coverage they are purchasing. Businesses are now willing to pay for a more comprehensive level of cover to make sure their staff have sufficient protection when away, which is resulting in higher limits and premiums.