Insurance as a force for change

Paul Redington from Zurich Insurance talks about how his role has changed over the years and how it now has a much more proactive emphasis on preventing major damage to buildings caused by events such as climate change.

 

Paul Redington followed in his father’s footsteps when he joined the insurance industry on graduation, but the job today could not be more different from what it was, even when Paul started his career.  And Paul says his employer Zurich has encouraged him to help mould it into the role he has today which even includes assisting in lobbying politicians to try to help to prevent the kind of damage being wreaked on buildings and communities as a result of climate change.

Paul is a Regional Property Major Loss Claims Manager at Zurich. He has been at the company for 10 years, joining from AIG. Before that he worked for Aviva and Legal & General. His father worked in the City and Paul remembers being overwhelmed by the grand City buildings when he came into the office as a schoolboy for a “bring your child to work” day. Over a decade later, having graduated in History and Politics, he began work in a building just a stone’s throw from the office his father had worked in.  

That was 30 years ago and for the last 20 years Paul has been working on property claims, focusing on major losses caused by, for instance, storms or fires. He says that in recent years there have been more claims linked to the kind of serious weather events associated with climate change.  The aftermath can be traumatic for individuals and businesses and Paul’s job is to help them to recover and to fulfil Zurich’s “Claims Commitment”.

Sustainability

In recent years Zurich has been focusing more on resilience and sustainability. Paul really enjoys this preventive side of the job and the drive to promote best practice. Part of his job involves supporting Zurich’s Public Affairs team in its lobbying efforts, on such issues as building safety and flood resilience. He says Zurich has been in the vanguard of this more proactive approach. “Insurance is usually a fall back, to bail people out if major events happen, but we also want to help either prevent the damage happening in the first place or to mitigate its effects,” he says. 

As part of this process he and his colleagues share case studies with customers of what can go wrong, so they can better prepare and put suitable continuity plans in place. The exceptional challenges the world is currently facing has, he says, emphasised more than ever the need for contingency planning.  “In the past insurance was simply about issuing cheques to help people recover. Now we are increasingly about being a knowledge base and a force for change” says Paul. “I would not have dreamt of the role evolving like this 10-15 years ago, but it makes the job more interesting and it makes you feel you are making a real difference. It’s really rewarding.”

He adds that Zurich has been very good at giving him the opportunity to develop his role to embrace areas that may have been reserved for more senior personnel other firms. He also appreciates the broad approach the company takes to career progression. “We have regular discussions about future directions, but they are not just about rising up the career ladder in a linear fashion. The discussions are broad-ranging, about other projects and opportunities. It’s very refreshing. You get the opportunity to develop and at all stages of your career, such as the firm supporting Chartered Insurance Institute exams, and you are rewarded not just in terms of a bonus if you pass your Associateship, but with a pensionable salary increase. That shows Zurich values professionalism and experience and the kind of qualifications which will benefit the business but, more importantly, customers.” 

Flexible working

Paul has also benefited from the flexible culture at Zurich. He has two children, now grown up, but when he started his daughter was still at primary school and he had the flexibility to sometimes attend school events where the job allowed.  That flexibility has ramped up in the last years, and particularly due to Covid, and Paul says it makes for a more committed, happier workforce. Paul has adapted to the recent full-scale move to working from home. Even before Covid he was able to work one day from home and others “on the road” meeting customers, or in meetings in Croydon, London or elsewhere. “My job for the last 20 years has been very flexible. I don’t like being tied to a desk and it doesn’t fit my role or the needs of our policyholders,” he says.

He adds that even after 30 years in the profession he learns something every day at Zurich. “It’s such a dynamic environment,” he says. That is vital these days when things are so fast-changing. “You have to be adaptable,” says Paul. “When I started my career a lot of people were resistant to change, but you have to be flexible now. That needs to be supported by the right culture managed in the right way.”

*Top picture credit: John Barker and Wikimedia commons



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