Insurance News – Sky’s the limit for marine agency
Jill Murphy and Heather Roberts were under no illusions that setting up an underwriting agency was always going to be challenging, but they were ready for whatever came their way. They were game to take on new challenges and put in the hard yards to make their underwriting agency a success.
And the fruits of their labour have paid off. Some 12 months and a pandemic later, RedSky Insurance has found its niche and is thriving against the odds.
The founders stepped out of their comfort zones to build the dream of a customer-focused and nimble marine underwriting agency in late 2019.
“What it came down to was we were able to control our own destiny in the prime part of our careers. Heather and I decided that doing our own thing was a better way to go,” Ms Murphy tells Insurance News.
They have more than 50 years’ experience in the insurance industry between them, holding senior positions with leading broking houses and insurers in Australia and overseas. But it was Ms Murphy’s last role at Agile Underwriting that gave them the catalyst to strike out on their own.
With backing from Envest, an Australian insurance-focused private investment firm, the pair purchased the marine portfolio that Ms Murphy had built at Agile in an off-market transaction in December 2019.
That Envest came on board from the start was a “vote of confidence” in their vision for the business, they said.
“Starting an agency is hard work but the financial and advisory support from Envest combined with our collective knowledge and experience, passion for service; our relationships and networks, and the current state of the market has ultimately worked in our favour,” Ms Murphy says.
“I’m really proud of what we have achieved in just over 12 months. We only launched on December 2 2019 and three months later we had to navigate our business through a pandemic.”
The pandemic required some recalibration of their business plan but according to Ms Roberts, the team managed working remotely very well.
“You just have to get on with it,” Ms Roberts says. “Staying in touch and communicating has been important especially for a start-up. But as Jill says, it’s the passion that really kept us going. And we learned quickly how positive and adaptable we can be as an underwriting agency.”
Ms Murphy, who is based in her native New Zealand, says Zoom became the agency’s “best friend”. And despite being unable to see her team for more than a year or meet with Australian clients, the agency has continued to grow and establish its presence nationally and in New Zealand. RedSky is also writing marine business in the Pacific islands and recently moved into some parts of Asia.
“I think our customers like that we are niche, we’re passionate and our more than 50 years’ of experience come through. We know what we’re talking about,” Ms Murphy says.
“The other milestone was becoming a coverholder at Lloyd’s. That was a big confidence boost. It took us a short six-month process to achieve coverholder status and in the middle of a pandemic.”
Article from Insurance News – April/May 2021