From left, Vivienne and David Abell, with Caroline Kenny QC, Fred Hawke and Lucy Terracall at his ANZ farewell. David is holding the gold watch presented to him for 30 years at the bank. Caroline is a Vic AILA committee member; Lucy is a Clayton Utz partner.
Stalwart retires only once
By Kate Tilley, Editor, Resolve
David Abell has retired from the ANZ Bank, but he's not planning to retire from AILA.
David has been a member of AILA's Victorian chapter committee for more than 20 years, including the last five as treasurer.
He's keen to continue working with the committee "for as long as I can keep adding value".
"It's not very time consuming," he said. "We have a large committee and people pull their weight."
At the end of February, David left ANZ Bank after almost 30 years, retiring as senior manager group insurance.
David's a second generation insurance professional – his father retired in 1975 as Victorian manager of Commercial Union.
It was legendary insurance lawyer Fred Hawke, now a partner at Clayton Utz, who introduced David to AILA. "It was a natural thing for someone with an insurance role to join and AILA has always had a good reputation for providing quality information on insurance law," he said.
Before joining ANZ in April 1987, David worked in insurance broking.
He completed a Bachelor of Business (Insurance) and a Graduate Diploma in Corporate Risk Management at Victoria College, now part of Deakin University.
David remains an active member of the Prahan Insurance Society (PIS), a group of Deakin graduates that first met in the Sedgwick boardroom in July 1981.
The Bachelor of Business (Insurance) was then the southern hemisphere's only insurance degree.
One of his lecturers, who was head of the insurance department and a fellow PIS member, was the late Warren Tickle, who became Australia's general insurance commissioner, a role he held when the former Insurance (Agents & Brokers) Act 1984 and the Insurance Contracts Act 1984 were introduced.
David said AILA fulfills its role of building a bridge between the insurance industry and the legal profession and agrees with national president Angus Kench's mantra that AILA is not just for lawyers.
"We [the Victorian chapter] had a seminar on broking in March, which was 54% lawyers and 46% industry, which was encouraging," he said.
For a professional insurance buyer, David said AILA events and conferences offered excellent snapshots of what was happening in the industry and the courts.
"The basis of insurance is a legal contract, so you need to understand the law that underpins the insurance you buy," he told Resolve.
Post retirement, David is keen to return to an old love – teaching insurance. He taught principles of risk transfer (the study of commercial insurance) and insurance law to Monash University masters students for 12 years. He says even the brightest students struggle with policy interpretation and claims adjusting, so his vast industry knowledge will be valuable in helping them understand the issues.
He is talking with a university law school about providing an introduction to insurance and insurance law course at post-graduate level over five days, with three days devoted to general insurance, one to marine and one to reinsurance. The objective is to teach insurance law in the morning and the role of insurance (claims adjusting, products and underwriting) in the afternoon.
In preparing for the role, he is reading (cover to cover) the celebrated insurance tomes, like Sutton's Insurance Law, and Peter Mann, Greg Pynt, Dr Allan Manning and Professor Rob Merkin's books.
With his banking career behind him, David now has more time for family. His wife, Vivienne, has two grandchildren who keep them busy and very entertained.
On Wednesday afternoons he picks up Zara, 9, and George, 8, from school. While Zara is at ballet class, David and George head, weather and iPad permitting, to a park for Richmond-fanatic George to practise kicking the Sherrin.
David's AFL footy team is Adelaide because he spent a decade of his early years living in South Australia's capital, although he was born in Brisbane. Melbourne has been home since 1976.
Over more than 30 years as an insurance professional, one of David's proudest achievements was winning the 1992 AILA Travelling Fellowship for his 20,000 word research paper on D&O insurance. The three-person judging panel included the late Geoff Masel and the late Professor Sutton.