Insurer targeting professions to try hand in Australia

THE 75-year-old mutual company Professional Provident Society (PPS) has set up a business in Australia and will begin offering short-term insurance in SA in the next few days.

The move to Australia, if successful, is an opportunity for Professional Provident to earn Australian dollars that will be beneficial in an environment where the rand has been weakening.

“(In Australia) we are going to start out with our major product which put PPS on the map, which is income protection,” CEO Mike Jackson said.

Professional Provident was formed by eight dentists in 1941, two years after the Second World War had started. They offered financial protection to professionals such as dentists who due to sickness or injury lost out on income and were unable to practise.

In Australia, Professional Provident will target professionals such as doctors, dentists, lawyers and accountants, Mr Jackson said. “It’s a big market. There are nearly 500,000 professionals in Australia.”

The company is building the business in Australia from scratch after planning the venture for the last five years. It follows South African insurers such as OUTsurance in expanding to Australia.

It has hired Michael Pillemer, the former MD of Investec Private Advisers in Australia and a founder of Centric Wealth. It will be looking to offer life assurance in Australia.

Professional Provident Society, which has a presence in Namibia as well, also offers dread disease cover, business assurance, retirement and savings, and a medical aid scheme for professionals.

The company has now diversified into short-term insurance in SA and will start writing policies in the next few days.

Nazeer Hoosen, CEO of the short-term insurance business, said the group would introduce a full range of general insurance products and would partner with Santam, which would help with claims processing and the like.

The short-term insurance business in SA would be 49% owned by Santam, Mr Jackson added.

February 19, 2016
Business Day Live