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Christine Cupitt wants to reframe the life insurance sector as Council of Australian Life Insurers chief

Life insurers also took “important steps” during the pandemic that were “worth revisiting”, Mr Cupitt said, pointing to commitments that COVID-19 vaccines would not affect policy terms and conditions.

But she admitted the story of life insurance’s social role had not been well-articulated in the past – a common complaint among the industry executives who led the establishment of a standalone lobby group.

She said the sector had been focused on complying with a raft of new rules and regulations, after the royal commission made 15 recommendations relating to insurance, including a ban on so-called “hawking” of insurance products and reclassification of “claims handling” as a financial service.

It had also been distracted by significant consolidation, including TAL’s acquisition of Westpac’s BT Life business and Zurich’s purchase of ANZ’s OnePath life insurance business as the major banks quit the sector.

Recruitment drive

“We’ve now got to a point where those regulatory reforms are embedded, the code [of conduct] is being implemented, a lot of M&A activity has settled down,” she said. “We have the opportunity now to work with a new government to explain the role and value of life insurance.”

To achieve that, the CALI board – co-chaired by TAL chief Brett Clark and AIA Australia chief Damien Mu – has been on a spending spree, recruiting Ms Cupitt last year and Keely O’Brien, a former adviser to former prime minister Julia Gillard, as general manager of corporate affairs.

The Australian Financial Review has confirmed former Westpac head of government affairs Michael Johnston and Financial Planning Association policy chief Ben Marshan are also joining CALI in key roles.

Ms Cupitt said her priority was to make sure Australians had sufficient insurance cover in place, after research suggested this was not the case.

She said she wanted to

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