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Ten top stories from 2021

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It’s been another challenging year, and the team at insuranceNEWS.com.au has taken great pride in keeping our army of readers up to date throughout.

By the time 2021 is done, the website will have recorded more than 7 million pageviews – an impressive number by any measure.

Here we look back at the stories from the past 12 months which caught your attention more than any others.

1.     IAG employee lifts lockdown spirits with viral video, July 28

This story was the most-read of the entire year – showing that in 2021 we needed news that would give us a lift.

IAG’s Melbourne-based Learning and Development Specialist Fran Porter’s marvellous music video, These Days, celebrates some of the quirky experiences of lockdown life, remote working and online meetings.

The response was staggering, with thousands watching the video and paying tribute with comments.

2.     Possible Zurich sale tipped to attract wide interest, October 20

Rumours have been swirling for months now that international giant Zurich is looking to sell its Australian general insurance operations – apart from travel.

Zurich of course won’t comment, and neither will any potential buyers.

QBE has been singled out in the media as entering talks about the sale, but our report quotes analysts as saying all the big players would take a look.

Zurich is a major player in the intermediated market here, and the deal – if it ever happens – could be worth about $500 million.

3.     QBE restructure removes 40 positions, February 23

This exclusive report proved a hit with readers. Details were sketchy but QBE did confirm 40 positions would go, although a quarter would be redeployed.

The job losses were not focused on any one sector or location, and the Financial Sector Union pledged to support those affected.

The numbers may not have been hugely significant but the story’s popularity demonstrates the level of interest in staffing changes at any of the major insurers.

4.     Class action letters sent to 750,000 CBA customers, March 1

The popularity of this story may be partly based on the sheer number of people potentially affected.

Slater and Gordon was pushing pretty hard to raise awareness of the action against Commonwealth Bank on consumer credit insurance, and we saw spikes on this story each time a communication from the law firm went out.

The firm also had similar actions running against ANZ and Westpac as part of its Get Your Insurance back campaign.

5.     COVID test case judgment: insurers win the day, October 8

The insuranceNEWS.com.au team worked late to bring you this Breaking News story, which was a significant win for the industry.

After losing the first test case on COVID-19 business interruption claims, it was a relief for the Federal Court’s Justice Jayne Jagot to come down on insurers’ side this time.

Of course, appeal hearings subsequently took place and we’re still waiting for a judgment on those. Plus there’s still the option for the losing side to make one last appeal to the High Court.

6.     ASIC obtains freezing orders against brokerage, July 13

It seems there’s always an appetite to read about others in a spot of bother, and this story about ASIC obtaining freezing orders against Alliance Insurance Broking Services was no different.

Some court wrangling and undertakings followed, before PSC stepped up to acquire the business for $24.5 million.

7.     Austbrokers Corporate CEO resigns as trio set to join Marsh, January 19

You’ll have to cast your mind right back to the start of the year for this one as a trio of executives switched from AUB to Marsh.

AUB Group CEO Mike Emmett did not try to hide his disappointment as Austbrokers Corporate CEO John Mutton, GM Corporate and Specialty Nick Hodges, and GM Financial Lines and Private Equity Steve Pickett, resigned.

8.     Howden, Steadfast enter broking partnership, January 14

Another January story, this Breaking News announced UK-based broker group Howden’s arrival in Australia.

Built on a partnership with Steadfast, Howden came to these shores with bold ambitions, and has since launched in New Zealand too.

Howden says its focus will be on corporate, people risk and speciality, which the firm says are segments SME brokers don’t traditionally service.

9.     Court rules on Willis Re gardening leave dispute, August 3

The Willis Towers Watson/Aon merger proposal had many consequences – including the departure of a Willis Re senior executive who didn’t want to work for Aon.

It ended up before a court as Willis Re Asia-Pacific President Michael Harden took issue with the way his then employer handled things, saying he had been told to lie to clients while he served out a notice period.

It’s the kind of private disputes becoming public story that people love to read.

Mr Harden now works for Guy Carpenter.

10.   Steadfast acquires Coverforce in $411.5 million deal, August 16

One of the largest privately-owned brokers in Australia – Coverforce – was acquired by Steadfast in a major deal.

Steadfast had succeeded where AUB Group previously failed in 2019. AUB’s attempted take-over descended into chaos after a dispute within Coverforce which ended up in court.

Once that was cleaned up, Steadfast moved in and was delighted to emerge winners of the “competitive process” that led to the sale.