December 2014

Richard Adamczyk and his fiancée, Cathy, on the Tahune Airwalk.

Victorian chair grabs opportunities

“Don’t miss an opportunity on the basis of fear: even if you think you aren’t capable, you will surprise yourself.”

So says AILA Victoria’s chair Richard Adamczyk. His mantra is: “Don’t shy away from opportunities: take every one that comes by.”

And that’s how he lives. Apart from his role with AILA, Richard manages a team of claims examiners at AIG, volunteers for two community organisations, travels the world hiking and camping, and is planning an October 2015 wedding.

He leads AILA’s 17-member committee that coordinates seminars and networking events to develop insurance knowledge in Victoria.

Richard has been involved with AILA for three years, after been introduced to the association by loss adjuster-claims examiner Peter Chapman.

“At the time, the Victorian chapter had more legal involvement, and I was keen to add a stronger industry flavour,” he said.

A particular focus in Victoria is increasing industry participation. “As a claims manager I am uniquely positioned to be able to attract more industry interest,” Richard said.

He is one of AIG’s two financial lines complex claims team managers for Australasia. He is a technical reference point for team members and internal stakeholders and a point of contact for brokers and insureds.

After graduating from La Trobe University in 2004 with a Bachelor of Behavioural Science and Laws (Honours), Richard began his career at Melbourne’s Frenkel Partners Lawyers, working in professional indemnity, personal injury and insolvency.

Five years later he joined Victoria’s Sustainability and Environment Department (DSE) as acting insurance manager before starting work at AIG as a claims examiner. He was promoted to management at AIG in August 2013.

Richard had not planned to work in insurance, but began to develop an appreciation for it at Frenkel Partners.

“When I became comfortable with how insurance litigation operates, and discovered how broad it was, I was hooked. I knew I had to continue in the industry,” he told Resolve.

“At DSE I grew to appreciate the litigation behind a large number of products in the commercial space. In my AIG role, I found one day you might litigate an insolvency case, the next might be defamation, then personal injury or directors’ duties.

“The amount of learning in such different areas of litigation leaves you a well-rounded individual,” he said.

“I had no exposure to the industry as a student. It would be helpful to capture students’ imaginations with the broad coverage of matters in the insurance space.”

AILA targets professionals already working in the industry, but there is a “lot of scope for law students to come to seminars to develop an appreciation for what insurance law is about.

“There is a push towards encouraging students to get involved with AILA, but there could be a greater focus on that aspect. In Victoria we are considering organising networking events for young people targeted more at students.”

Richard said AILA sought to be an educational body that developed debate and discussion around all areas of insurance law. “It seeks to provide targeted seminars on hot topics of the day and create networking opportunities for industry members.”

Melbourne hosts the national conference next year and the Victorian committee is working towards a “new and exciting program to engage attendees”.

Richard was elected Victorian chair last February, after serving two years on the committee.

“It is an exciting opportunity and it has been great to meet various members of the industry. A fair amount of work is involved, but I work with a very experienced, dedicated committee.”

In his spare time, Richard volunteers at a community legal service, Western Suburbs Legal Service (WSLS), in Newport, and for St John Ambulance Australia (Vic) Inc.

He has volunteered for WSLS for 11 years, having begun while at university “for legal experience and as an opportunity to give back to the community”. “It’s a great service for people who don’t have anywhere else to turn.”  

Richard has volunteered with St John for four years, providing emergency responses at events. That involvement began after he learnt first aid as a member of the Polish Scouts Association.

Richard loves camping and hiking, and last year hiked 40km across Mt Kosciuszko’s 10 peaks in three days.

He has hiked through the Swiss Alps and travelled extensively in Europe and west and north Africa. In keeping with his hobbies, Richard proposed to his fiancée, Cathy, also an insurance lawyer, during a walk along the Tahune Airwalk, a wilderness experience in Tasmania’s rugged south west.