VECCI and Allianz enter unique partnership to drive improved WorkCover affordability and service

13 February 2006

VECCI and Allianz today sealed a unique and historic partnership aimed at lowering WorkCover costs and improving service for employers.

VECCI Chief Executive Officer Mr Neil Coulson said that while business has benefited from the reduction in WorkCover premiums over the past two years, cost and service issues surrounding workers’ compensation were still a major bugbear for business – WorkCover costs have been consistently rated among the top two issues of greatest concern to business in our surveys of members carried out in recent years, and administrative and compliance costs associated with WorkCover have also rated highly. For example, in the VECCI State Pre-Budget Survey, released in late January 2006, the cost of WorkCover premiums was ranked as the number one issue of concern to respondents - when asked what was the single most important issue for Victorian business, almost 74 percent of the 700 surveyed firms indicated the cost of WorkCover premiums.

“Based on what our members are clearly telling us, we are developing several new initiatives to help address their concerns”, says Mr Coulson.

“One such initiative is the development of Business Cover Plus - the VECCI Workers’ Compensation Program - which is being launched today. This new scheme has been specifically designed for SME businesses and members across 13 industry groups and local government.

The benefits of Business Cover Plus include:

Reduced costs through superior claims management
Improved cashflow via monthly payments of premium
Improved customer service, including dedicated account management
Pro-active education and training on OH&S issues

“We have selected Allianz, one of Australia’s leading private workers’ compensation insurers, based on their established track record. The Victorian WorkCover Authority currently rates Allianz the number one agent for employer satisfaction.

Allianz has been appointed as VECCI’s preferred workers’ compensation insurer through an exclusive three-year agreement.

Mr Nicholas Scofield, General Manager, Corporate Affairs for Allianz said that the strategic alliance between VECCI and Allianz will see the formation of a dedicated workers’ compensation program tailored to the needs of VECCI members.

“The partnership will underpin a program that is in direct response to members’ concerns about the costs of workers’ compensation premiums and improving customer service”, says Mr Scofield.

“The new program is designed to deliver strategic management of workplace risk, statutory compliance, dedicated account management and improved management of premiums.

“In addition, members with premiums of more than $1,000 and less than $100,000 per annum will automatically qualify to have their workers’ compensation premium funded through Allianz subsidiary company, Hunter Premium Funding, which will enable them to pay their premium in monthly instalments.

“This option will enable better cash flow management and ensure members are fully eligible for premium discounts set by WorkCover”, says Mr Scofield.

Mr Coulson confirmed that the strategic partnership with Allianz enables VECCI to develop industry-focused and SME-specific workers’ compensation and insurance solutions.

“The VECCI workers’ compensation program is unique, being the first and largest industry scheme of its type to be launched in Victoria.

“Allianz also operates in all Australian workers’ compensation jurisdictions (except Queensland and South Australia, which both have monopoly arrangements).

“As such, this program offers VECCI members with multi-state operations (or self-insured operations in other States) the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of consolidating with a single insurer”, says Mr Coulson.

For more information contact the VECCI Senior Manager – Strategic Communications, Chris James, on (03) 8662-5226 or Allianz General Manager - Corporate Affairs, Nicholas Scofield on (02) 9390 6596.

The Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) is Victoria's most influential employer group, servicing over 25,000 Victorian businesses per annum. An independent, non-government body, VECCI was founded by the business community to represent business. Its membership base is diverse, with involvement from all levels and sectors of industry including: business services, hospitality, manufacturing, retail, tourism and emerging sectors. VECCI is involved in every facet of industry and commerce across the State, and its role is to represent the interests of business at a State level as well as nationally.

About Allianz Australia
Allianz is one of Australia’s leading insurers and performs well in all KPIs by which Victorian claims agents are measured. Allianz is also recognized by the Victorian WorkCover Authority as being rated number one in employer satisfaction in its 2005 Annual Report Source: Victorian WorkCover Authority 2005 Annual Report, ‘Appendix 2 Agent Performance’ p74. Its Allianz Australia Workers’ Compensation (Victoria) Limited enviable record of outstanding return to work results enables employers to achieve improved claims outcomes. For businesses with interstate operations (either insured or self-insured), Allianz operates nationally in all workers’ compensation jurisdictions (except Queensland and South Australia), including Excess of Loss and Seafarers. This enables VECCI members to consolidate their state workers’ compensation arrangements with a single insurer.

Allianz Australia offers a wide range of insurance products and services including car insurance, home insurance and Life insurance.

About Hunter Premium Funding
Hunter is the leading premium funder in Australia and a wholly-owned Allianz subsidiary. Hunter provides funding options to cover most types of insurance contracts including workers’ compensation. Insurance premium funding is a flexible payment solution offering insurance premium repayments spread over monthly payments. This frees up working capital for other income producing opportunities and improves business cash flow.