- Marine Protect
Marine Protect - The Story So Far
NTI Marine Protect has just turned five. And what a five years it’s been!
We recently sat down to discuss the milestone and reflect on building Australia's leading marine insurance team .
NTI Marine Protect is the largest team of marine insurance specialists in Australia and covers nearly $600 bn of cargo worldwide, from individual parcel deliveries to multi-container, multi-million-dollar shipments.
A quick summary: CGU and Vero own NTI in a 50:50 partnership. Both previously ran Marine insurance divisions, and both saw the potential in a merged Marine business. In 2017 they decided to combine those portfolios under NTI’s banner as ‘Marine Protect.’ It was a natural fit as NTI specialised in transport and already serviced customers in the logistics and supply chain industries.
It’s hard to believe that NTI Marine Protect has come such a long way in such a short time. But when we dig a little deeper, it’s perhaps no surprise. We think brokers and customers alike have benefited immensely from our focus on innovation, top-notch service, and claims excellence.
It’s also been great for the team at NTI and the teams we brought in from Vero and CGU to build something together that has helped so many Australian businesses.
“Our niche was transport and construction, so there were a lot of synergies with marine,” says Chief Customer Officer (and Marine Protect project executive sponsor) Janelle Greene.
“It made sense for a specialist to deliver customers and brokers a better proposition.”
A marriage of equals
“Whenever you go through any sort of merger, there’s that concern, that fear of the unknown,” says Marine Product Manager (and former Vero employee) Nick Aiello. “But that was quickly overtaken by excitement over what we were looking to build.”
One key decision made early on would have a lasting impact: no redundancies. It sent a clear message that everyone was part of NTI.
“We wanted to be clear from to outset that the whole team, with all of the expertise, was coming across and that no one would be left out,” says NTI’s Chief People and Operations Officer Kerrie Challenor. “I think that helped culturally.”
Preparation was critical – and extensive. Sixty-three employees from the two companies came across. But there were some complexities to manage beyond the usual logistics, such as organising payroll and benefits, seating, laptops, and the like.
For example, the transmission of business wouldn’t be complete until June 2017, but the offices moved in April. That meant some areas, such as claims, needed to be kept very separate as the teams managed the ‘run-off’ claims of customers that had not yet transitioned to NTI (and wouldn’t until their renewal).
But the project team’s extensive preparation laid the groundwork, and constant communication from NTI – including morning teas, ‘town hall’ meetings and regular email updates – kept everyone in the loop.
“The most important focus was making sure the incoming teams knew they were wanted and valued,” says Kerrie. “We also spent time making sure our existing team members didn’t feel displaced and out of the picture.”
It’s fair to say the team’s preparations worked, and soon enough, Marine Protect was up and running in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.
“Everyone was extremely welcoming when we came across,” says Nick. “If you’ve ever dealt with anyone from NTI, you’d know how welcoming they are.”
A brand-new business
Setting up a new specialty line of business is a big job. NTI had to develop a new reinsurance program to support its expanded portfolio. It had to create new products and offerings and transfer policies from the legacy businesses to Marine Protect.
But with challenge comes opportunity. Marine Protect streamlined its products, made processes improvements and sought opportunities for innovation and improvement.
“We get that backing and investment right from the top. There’s a real culture around innovation and excellence,” says Nick. “There’s also the depth of our team’s expertise. We have a team of the best and most experienced minds in the marine insurance industry. We come together to collaborate and share information both internally, within NTI, and externally, with our broker partners and customers.”
There’s no doubt that the new team benefited from access to NTI’s resources, agility and focus on understanding customers’ industries. NTI embraced the incoming experience and expertise; the benefits have flowed in both directions.
Better for brokers
A new initiative will have little impact if partners don’t see any benefits. Brokers are a key part of NTI’s operations, and they’re top-of-mind for Head of Marine Andrew Kidd.
“I think for brokers, we’ve brought together a lot more expertise. It’s easier when you have more of it. By bringing more diverse people together, we can better help the broker network,” he says.
NTI’s significant investments in IT and data to generate customer and business insights have helped Marine Protect create efficiencies and innovative new products. Launching onto the Sunrise platform is a great example. It’s an efficient way to transact small and medium-size cargo business.
“We spend a lot of time getting those systems right to generate those efficiencies for brokers. Having more data means we can price products correctly,” Andrew says, which helps brokers to have better relationships with their customers.
Customers and claims are the keys
Mike Edmonds, NTI’s Executive General Manager, says an insurance policy is essentially a promise to help a business recover from loss or damage.
For customers, claims are where the rubber hits the road. NTI emphasises claims management “because that’s when the promise is kept,” says Mike.
One big differentiator for customers is that Marine Protect has an in-house recoveries and settlements team. That’s critical because it can help reduce claims costs and help businesses get back to work faster.
It’s a particular point of emphasis – and pride – for Mike. “We’re very good at keeping our promises regarding claims,” he says. In the last five years, Marine Protect has paid 99% of claims made.
“We make decisions early to allow businesses to continue to operate and grow.”
In the last five years, Marine Protect has issued more than 98, 000 policies and managed more than 15, 000 claims. We cover more than 3, 800 hulls, from recreational boats to commercial vessels.
On that basis alone, we’d have to say Marine Protect has been a resounding success, benefiting customers, brokers, the NTI team and NTI’s shareholders (CGU and Vero) alike.
But there’s more to it than just the numbers. By taking care of the incoming people and policies alike, NTI positioned Marine Protect to succeed.
“I’m not going to say it was perfect, there were definitely some hiccups along the way, but we went to extraordinary lengths to make sure that everything was as smooth as possible,” Kerrie says.
“We were never too short of time to speak to somebody individually. And I think that makes a huge difference.”
For her part, Janelle marvels at how much change the organisation has managed. “It was a whole-of-business project … the most successful transition of any portfolio from our shareholders to NTI ever.”
But perhaps we should give the last word to Nick, as someone who experienced the transition first-hand and is now a proud NTI team member:
“At NTI, marine specialists make up a significant part of the business. We’ve been through the transition, set the foundations and moved into a real period of growth.
“I might be biased, but when I talk to our underwriters, I can see real enthusiasm for the future. Everyone’s got that same drive and passion for what we’ve built so far, what we’re continuing to build and for achieving our potential.”
We couldn’t agree more – and we can’t wait to see what NTI Marine Protect looks like when it turns ten!