Sharon Fox-Slater: Are insurers the villain or the hero? 

Many people believe that they only offer coverage in limited circumstances and, when the time comes, they refuse to pay claims.

However, the truth is, when someone purchases a policy from an insurer, it is a commitment (in fact, it is a legal obligation) to assist when things go wrong, and the policyholder will always be paid out if it falls within the policy’s terms and conditions.

So, in our eyes, insurers are not the villain.

In fact, they are quite often the hero in a story of tragedy or misfortune…  

Take this landlord, for example.

They owned a property in the South-East Queensland region that was battered by a severe storm, encompassing large hail stones, strong winds and heavy rainfall.

During the storm event, the tenant reported water ingress within the living area, garage and bedrooms, which subsequently collapsed.

After an assessor was appointed, it was discovered that about 200 concrete roof tiles to the main property roof were cracked due to the impact of hailstones.

More than $33,000 in repairs were needed to get the property back into shape.

In addition, because repairs were taking place, the tenant was unable to live in the property.

The landlord was able to claim about 156 days of loss of rent equating to more than $7200.

In total, the landlord recouped $43,950 from their insurer – EBM RentCover – to restore the property and secure another tenant.

In this situation, would you say the insurer is the villain or hero?

As the Managing Director of EBM RentCover and having worked at the business for longer than 30 years, I can attest that our current and future reputation is built upon foundations of truth and integrity and ultimately honouring appropriate claims submitted to our business.

In fact, we paid out about $47.5 million in claims in 2023 for things like loss of rent, tenant damage and insured events (fire, storm and flood).

In addition, the Insurance Council of Australia states that insurers accept around 96 per cent of claims. 

Again, villain or hero? 

But if we dig a bit deeper, I believe the true heroes are the team members in the insurance industry who work together to support clients to protect their properties.

During my past three decades working at EBM RentCover, I have seen the business evolve from a small startup into a national operation.

Today, we protect about 165,000 rental properties across Australia and partner with 1700 real estate agencies.

This has all been possible thanks to a dedicated and passionate team of professionals – some of which have recently stepped up to take over the day-to-day running of the business. 

While I am still involved in the oversight of the strategy that directs EBM RentCover into the future, a new generation of leaders are running the daily operations. Today, I want to take this opportunity to highlight some emerging leaders and how they are evolving within the landlord insurance space. 

Edward Heading – Director Of Operational Excellence

Edward Heading, Director Of Operational Excellence, at EBM RentCover. Photo: EBM RentCover.

Edward Heading commenced a career with EBM RentCover in 2012 (straight out of university).

He started working as a Client Services Consultant, where he gained a solid introduction to the world of landlord insurance and built-up experience in underwriting and claims management.

This knowledge later carried into his role as National Relationship Manager where he led a team of knowledgeable professionals to deliver tailored risk management solutions to real estate specialists. 

Today, he works as EBM RentCover’s Director Of Operational Excellence where he spearheads change and innovation to help shape the future of EBM RentCover. Edward also serves on EBM RentCover’s Executive Leadership Team. 

What leadership qualities do you possess? 

I believe leadership style and qualities are firstly shaped from an individual’s personal values and evolve as you progress through life.

The values or actions that I aim to possess are caring for others, putting my hand up to try new things, being a listener, loyalty and acting with integrity. 

Is there any one person who has shaped your leadership style?

Having worked at EBM RentCover for longer than 12 years, I’ve worked alongside some amazing people.

Sharon Fox-Slater is someone I have aspired to learn from.

Her caring, empathetic, passionate but decisive qualities have helped form my own style. 

Where do you plan on steering EBM RentCover to in the future? 

I would like to see EBM RentCover maintain its stability and growth.

The business has experienced significant change over the past three years, including navigating the pandemic, market pricing challenges and perhaps the biggest change in our history – the partnership with a new underwriter (Zurich) after a 25-year relationship with our previous partner. 

Change of this nature creates disruption and uncertainty, not only for those within the business, but also our clients, many of whom have worked with us for decades.

However, with change comes evolution.

We are currently working on the technological advancement of our systems, with the goal of creating greater efficiencies and improved client experiences. 

These initiatives will allow us to enhance the personal approach we apply to our customer service and support.

Along with this we aim to advance our new underwriting partnership with Zurich, together promoting a highly valuable landlord insurance product to the property management market, at competitive prices, with the best claims support and service within the industry.  

Wanda Daybell – Business Manager

Wanda Daybell
Wanda Daybell is the Business Manager at EBM RentCover. Photo: EBM RentCover

Wanda Daybell is a workplace chameleon. She started at EBM RentCover more than five years ago in the role of Team Leader in our Expert Care team.

She then transitioned into the role of Quality and Compliance Manager where she worked to ensure the business, its team and agent partners are working in line with legislative requirements.

More recently, she accepted a secondment as EBM RentCover’s Business Manager where she provides strategic support to the leadership team and works to enhance the employee journey.

Her broad skillset, including her exceptional attention to detail and friendly demeanour, means she can tackle most roles with absolute success.  

What makes a good leader?

I strongly believe that leadership is a journey of continuous learning and adaptation.

Over my career, and especially in the last five with EBM RentCover, I’ve discovered that the qualities that define a successful senior manager are both timeless and evolving.

Building and nurturing high-performing teams has always been important, but recent years have emphasised the need for even stronger collaboration.

This means recognising the diverse strengths of team members, fostering a culture of inclusivity, and ensuring everyone feels valued and empowered to contribute their best work.

What makes EBM RentCover different? 

EBM RentCover is conscious of the importance of empathy and emotional intelligence.

Understanding and responding to the needs, concerns, and motivations of team members and clients has been vital for the business in maintaining strong relationships and a positive work environment.

This means truly listening and connecting on a human level, not just a professional one.

By embodying these qualities, EBM RentCover can lead with both heart and mind, ensuring that our team and clients thrive in an ever-changing world. 

What is a constant key focus for yourself and EBM RentCover?

We place a strong focus on career pathways and understanding that an employee’s roadmap is unique.

When team members see a clear path for growth within the company, they’re more likely to stay engaged and committed.

It’s like giving them a map with exciting destinations along the way, rather than leaving them wandering in the professional wilderness.

A clear career pathway can turn a job into a long-term career, reducing turnover and retaining top talent.

I believe that offering career pathways is like planting seeds for the future—both for our team members and for the business itself.

It’s about nurturing potential, fostering growth, and ensuring that everyone can reach their full potential. 

Alison Cadwallader – National Underwriting Manager

Alison Cadwallader
Alison Cadwallader is the National Underwriting Manager at EBM RentCover. Photo: EBM RentCover.

As EBM RentCover’s National Underwriting Manager, Alison uses her 16-plus years’ experience in the insurance industry to evaluate and analyse the risks involved in insuring clients’ rental properties.

This includes working to establish pricing for acceptable insurable risks, and monitoring and updating policy wording. 

Along with this, Alison manages the internal systems and technological platforms that support EBM RentCover in the market – from our agent portal to the internal rating and processing systems. 

With a Diploma in Insurance Broking, experience managing EBM RentCover’s national Client Services Team, and having spent the past 12 years working at EBM RentCover, Alison knows EBM RentCover policies inside and out. Alison also serves on EBM RentCover’s Executive Leadership Team.

Is landlord insurance worth the expense?

I would argue that landlord insurance is more important than ever.

It is designed to financially protect the policyholder from unforeseen events.

Landlord insurance specifically acts as a safety net if an asset is damaged due to an insured event.

Now it’s true that many policyholders will never need to claim on their insurance, but many will.

According to the Insurance Council of Australia, insurers paid out $36.5 billion in claims in FY23, helping millions of Australians recover from the unexpected. 

In 2023, EBM RentCover settled more than 5600 claims worth $47.5 million – that’s an average pay-out of about $8500 per claim. 

To break those claims down, for example there were: 

  • 2469 claims for loss of rent – $19 million paid out 
  • 950 claims for damage from natural disasters (flood, storm, earthquake, cyclone, lightning) – $15.9 million 
  • 991 claims for liquid damage (like when pipes burst) – $6 million 
  • 472 claims for accidental damage – $2.8 million     
  • 66 claims for fire/smoke damage – $2.9 million. 

Undoubtedly, those landlords would say that the insurance was well worth the expense. 

How does EBM RentCover plan on leading in this space?

We educate property professionals and work closely with the real estate industry to highlight the value of landlord insurance.

We aim to simplify the complexities of the industry by offering support and guidance in times of need, and by keeping clients updated on the ever-changing property market. In addition, we make the claims process easy.

We aim to eliminate the stress and confusion that comes with making a claim.

A final note from Sharon…

Landlord insurance, like real estate, is an evolving industry.

And so too are the careers of those who work within it.

While my role looks a little different, I believe EBM RentCover is equipped with the right leaders in the right roles to spearhead change in the insurance industry. 

One way we are fostering change is by ensuring that we always put people first – both team members and clients.

People are at the heart of everything we do. 

If you are an agency looking to offer insurance solutions to your landlord clients, we invite you to partner with EBM RentCover.

Together, we can be the hero in your landlord’s eyes when it comes to protecting their property.   

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