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Insurance for First Australians
We wanted to better understand some of the barriers Indigenous people face when it comes to insurance so we commissioned a national research project.
Our project is Australia's first national research project into the insurance needs of Indigenous people. It led to the report: “Protecting our First Australians: Risk exposure & insurance coverage in Australia’s Indigenous communities”.
We ran focus groups with Indigenous communities in far north Queensland, Western Sydney, Shepparton (Victoria) and Perth on the topic of risk and insurance, and conducted an online survey of 400 Indigenous people. Among other findings, the research showed only 41% of Indigenous Australians had home insurance and only 46% had contents insurance.
A theme of affordability emerged. Half of participants said cost was their biggest barrier to buying insurance. Education on the benefits of insurance was an issue too, with nearly 30% saying they didn’t know enough about it. Findings also highlighted the community resilience and connection of some of the Indigenous communities involved in the research - how people look out for each other and where they go for help during an emergency.
These insights revealed opportunities too. IAG sees shared value as the intersection between a social problem and a business opportunity and our research into the under-serviced insurance market of Indigenous Australians revealed potential to address both.
The research contributes to delivering IAG’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) vision of being a leading organisation in supporting the empowerment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, businesses and communities.
Keeping an open mind
We decided to use a human centered design (HCD) approach to unpack insights from the research and identify ways in which we can better support Indigenous communities. We invited our Indigenous partners – AIME, CareerTrackers and Supply Nation as well as external partners NSW Legal Aid and ASIC, to a workshop to test initial concepts for risk reduction and product solutions.
HCD is typified by an open-minded investigation into customer needs. It does not jump to conclusions, or suggest pre-devised solutions to participants. Instead, it allows participants to guide the conversation, leading to smart and sometimes surprising outcomes and a more holistic picture of their needs.
IAG’s Indigenous Engagement Manager, Phil Lockyer, praises the approach. “It’s easy to think ‘I want some results’ so you focus on this or on that,” he says. “The HCD approach allowed the conversations we had with Indigenous business and consumers through focus groups to dictate the direction we ultimately went in.”
That direction was more ambitious than IAG had anticipated. “It began as a discussion about how we could communicate better with Indigenous communities. Now, we’re looking at creating an Indigenous insurance brand to market niche insurance products.”
Feedback from Indigenous consumers also highlighted a desire for a channel that had an Indigenous feel and look and spoke directly to them. Further discussion contributed to the idea of developing an insurance brand specifically targeting Indigenous consumers. The HCD process was instrumental in leading us on this path.
A pioneering product
Getting constant, early feedback – and having a mechanism to work it into solutions – is an integral part of HCD. A ‘test and learn’ approach can lead to pilot solutions that are “co-created” by the target market, reducing the chance they’ll miss the mark.
Feedback so far has been promising. “The concept of an Indigenous insurance brand speaks to me; I would talk about it to other people,” said one respondent, Glen.
Win, win – a shared value opportunity
The project is currently in the ‘design and build’ phase as IAG works on making it a great example of what can be achieved with shared value innovation.
From a business perspective, Aboriginal-owned businesses and community sector organisations are growing fast. The combined income of the top 500 Aboriginal-owned corporations is $1.88 billion, up 8.2% from last year. The combined value of the sector’s assets is $2.224 billion, an increase of 5.7%. It makes sense for IAG to devise a better way to service this promising market.
IAG recognises, too, that its role extends beyond paying claims to using its scale and influence to make communities safer and more resilient.
“We believe the brand will attract more Indigenous businesses and consumers to us while allowing us to better inform them about the benefits of insurance,” says Phil. “It will thereby increase the coverage and safety of Indigenous people.”