December 2019


NZILA President’s message – Myles Noble

Conference highlights unveiled

Wow, what a magnificent conference.

It started with a welcome function at the Aotea Centre, which gave delegates a chance to get to know each other before the program began. Thanks to sponsor McElroys, which engaged with Auckland craft brewery Little Creatures to liven up the function.

The  conference had a spectacular opening  mihi, performed by children from the Parnell Area School Kapahaka Group, and the surprises and delights continued across two days at Auckland’s SkyCity Convention Centre.

The program was a mix of motivational speakers and industry experts sharing their knowledge. Three TED talks enabled delegates to get quick snapshots of academic research.

In the first, Emma Gabor, from IAG New Zealand, outlined the complexities of insurance issues for multi-unit buildings. She said different types of ownership structures created major problems after the Canterbury earthquakes. Most body corporates were underinsured and cross-lease properties, which were individually insured, lacked governance arrangements to enable insurers and owners to work together to resolve issues, particularly where foundations were damaged.

KPMG NZ’s Katherine Cumpstone, in her TED talk, spoke of the need to change business methodologies to suit the digital age. She said insurers had to evolve products for new risks, for example, online reputation damage. Increased access to data enabled insurers to underwrite more accurately and customers to better manage their own risks.

“The insurance industry must react swiftly and accurately to consumer perceptions. The customer is the most important part of the transaction and insurers must refocus on being customer-centric,” Katherine said.

The third TED talk was by Kate Warren, from Meares Williams Lawyers, who outlined problems with methamphetamine contamination in commercial and residential properties.

Contamination created myriad problems for many parties, but she said some insurers were declining legitimate claims. There was ambiguity and inconsistency in how claims were treated, depended on testing methodology, the type of loss, and difficulties in testing materials like soft furnishings.

The conference’s first motivational speaker was Cam Calkoen, an inspirational lad who was born with cerebral palsy, but refuses to let that be his label.

He spoke about his aspiration to “make life as awesome as it can be through the pursuit of excellence”.

“I have gone from people doubting I would ever walk, to exceeding expectations. Life is what we make it and the values needed to achieve awesomeness are simple – we need to believe and, in doing so, leave no stone unturned,” Cam said. And he has done just that in an energetic life that he shared enthusiastically with NZILA conference delegates.

From the sporting world, Dr Farah Palmer, a former captain of NZ’s women’s national rugby union team, the Black Ferns, talked about how strong women in her family helped shape her future. During Farah’s captaincy, the Black Ferns lost only once.

Farah is now a lecturer in the Department of Management at Massey University. Her insights into what helped her make it to the top in her chosen sport were inspiring.
Industry speakers included Dr Mark Giancaspro, from Adelaide University Law School, who explained smart contracts, blockchain and cryptocurrencies’ role in facilitating both. Read more here.

Marsh’s Christchurch-based South Island Regional Manager Steven Hills outlined the findings from the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2019, which helped us understand risk at a global level.

Steve explained that the report takes a 10-year view of the evolving risk landscape.

Key global perspectives included:

• insurance is not always available and not always the answer
• brokers must be advice led not product led
• strategy and risk must be aligned
• brokers must understand the fourth industrial revolution – artificial intelligence
• a lot of infrastructure globally is vulnerable to climate change-induced sea-level rises.

Steve said NZ is “one earthquake away from not getting earthquake reinsurance again” and there was not the capacity to cope with a major Wellington quake.

The Global Risks Report identified NZ’s top five risks as:

• extreme weather
• cyber attacks
• regional and global governance failure
• critical infrastructure shortfalls
• climate change adaptation failure.

Steve warned that NZ’s uptake of cyber insurance was low, but the exposure was there.

Two concurrent breakout sessions covered health and safety, harassment and resilience; and environmental liability. Read more here on presentations in the environmental stream.

A panel session on alternative dispute resolution was enlightening and informative. Read more here.

The conference’s traditional legal update had panelists Daniel Weatherley, from Young Hunter; Kim Burkhart, from Kennedys; and Martin Smith, from Gilbert Walker; discuss the nuances of several important cases. One of those, Hawk Packaging, is explored in detail in this issue in an article from McElroys.

The conference’s final speaker was Justice Rebecca Ellis, who outlined how legal expenses insurance could be a way to increase access to justice. Read more here.

In another NZILA tradition, the AGM was a short, sharp event. I was re-elected as president, Kavita Deobhakta as vice-president, Leon Briggs as treasurer, and Frank Rose as secretary.

NZILA conferences are renowned for the social events as well as the industry program.

The president’s drinks were at the Glass Goose, a great bar with a great vibe, and had delegates networking after a full-day conference. It was just a two-minute walk back to SkyCity where a ‘Taste of Federal Street’ was delivered as the conference dinner in a unique format where delegates could choose their seating preferences along with food stations that showcased much-loved items from Federal Street.

Renowned Auckland wine maker Stephen Nobilo provided a tasting session with four fabulous Auckland wines. Crawford & Company sponsored the dinner and offered some great entertainment with two solo artists and a fun digital photo booth.

The conference finished on a high with a ‘long lunch’ in the spectacular St Mathews Church with a delicious three-course meal and wines picked by Stephen Nobilo. The sponsor Morgan Coakle provided a difficult quiz for attendees with the winner taking home a magnum of champagne.

Such a highly successful NZILA conference will be hard to beat, but I have every confidence the organising committee for the 16–18 September 2020 event at Rydges Hotel, Queenstown, will do just that.

No conference can be a success without its sponsors. I’d like to thank them all:



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the New Zealand Insurance Law Association.