June 2018


No rules, no guidelines for first baby

by Kate Tilley, Resolve Editor

Having her first child has been an eye opener for immediate past AILA Queensland president Melanie Quixley.

As a Brisbane-based principal in Barry.Nilsson.Lawyers' insurance & health team, Melanie knows her job inside out and is renowned for finding solutions to clients' questions.

Son Thomas was only nine weeks old when Melanie told Resolve about the massive change in her thought processes that occurred when she took parental leave. "There's no legislation, no rules and no guidelines to follow."

Every day has been different, dependent on how much sleep she and Thomas manage to get as he learns to deal with life's basics, like wind.

In July, Melanie returns to work and her husband, Navron, a software engineer, will then swap "work brain for baby brain" as he takes parental leave.

Five months off has been Melanie's longest break since she started work, but she's enjoying the opportunity to spend time with Thomas and revitalise.

"I'll be excited to go back," she told Resolve. "I'll have a refreshed mindset."

Melanie joined BN in December 2003, after graduating in 2001 with IT and law degrees. Insurance was not a specific choice. "Like a lot of people, I fell into it."

Her first job was with Suncorp in the CTP division's legal liaison team, then she spent a year with Sparke Helmore. A friend was in family law at BN and encouraged her to apply for a vacancy in the insurance team.

Melanie has been a long-standing AILA member and joined the Qld committee about five years ago. She was Qld president in 2016 and 2017.

She had planned to have a hands-on role in Qld's 2018 Insurance Intensive, having been heavily involved in the successful 2017 event, but says her colleagues have kindly "left me alone" since Thomas's birth.

She says speakers' willingness to participate in the Insurance Intensive is testament to AILA's industry reputation. Last year she rang many people she didn't know and asked them to speak. Despite the cold calls, Melanie got plenty of positive responses. Everyone was enthusiastic, it was just logistics and timing that prevented some from participating.

Melanie says AILA has been valuable in extending her network. "I was known by my peers, but it's given me a huge network that extends beyond insurer clients to brokers and others outside your sphere."

Developing good relationships with other panel firms' lawyers is another benefit of AILA membership.

Melanie's interest in the insurance industry is piqued by its ever-changing dynamics and continual growth. "There's always more to do and more to learn and that keeps me interested."

For example, climate change and its impact on insurance law and potential claims is now a key talking point.

Cyber risk, including privacy laws and data breaches, is another relatively new element. Melanie predicts cyber will be a major field for insurers as data breaches and hacking become more common.

Given her IT specialisation at university, it's a field of major interest. Melanie has advised corporate insureds on privacy issues, particularly in the context of claims management and information they gather about claims.

She says some SMEs may not yet recognise the risk, "but that will change". SMEs may be happy to purchase cyber cover as an add-on to a liability policy, if at all. But bigger companies recognise the potential risk to business reputation and the likelihood of business interruption and are therefore more likely to buy stand-alone cyber products.

With two active parents, baby Thomas has much to look forward to as he grows older. Melanie's hobbies include running and boxing. She grew up on the Gold Coast in a family keen on sailing and boating, activities they still pursue as an extended family.

Melanie and Navron are keen hikers. They've scaled Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and hiked throughout Italy, France and Switzerland.

So it may not be long before Thomas swaps his bootees for hiking boots.

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Resolve is the official publication of the Australian Insurance Law Association and
the New Zealand Insurance Law Association.