FMG Chief Executive Chris Black gives an overview of 2021 as he finishes up with the Mutual.

Since my last update, there have been two more major storm events, one resulting in significant flooding and land damage in Marlborough and the West Coast and the other in and around Canterbury where wind gusts in excess of 200km wreaked havoc. As an insurer, storms and flooding are things we expect from time to time and reinforce the importance of the Mutual’s ongoing focus on ensuring New Zealand’s farmers and growers, and those industries that support them directly and indirectly, have continued access to adequate insurance at an affordable price. This is top of our list in terms of sustainability as an organisation, as is the advice that accompanies this in the context of trying to prevent losses and avoid interruptions in the first place. That’s good for everybody and helps keep premiums affordable.

Of course, some losses, despite good planning and prevention activities, are unavoidable. The impact and disruption caused by the Kaikoura earthquake in 2016 was one such example. Pleasingly though, five years on we have now settled all of those claims, enabling clients to get on with their lives. As I mentioned previously, following the Kaikoura earthquake, EQC and private insurers agreed a new public/ private partnership to handle all EQC related dwelling and land claims. The strategic intent in behind this was to make the response and recovery experience for clients easier and quicker. It’s heartening to see this new model playing out well in practice following the recent storm events.

2021 has been a tough year for all New Zealanders due to the disruption caused by the arrival of the Covid Delta variant, and especially tough emotionally and financially for those with family, jobs and businesses who have been directly impacted. Despite the considerable challenges however, with the general positive outlook of the rural sector right now, I think there is cause to be optimistic as we head into next year.

On behalf of all of us alongside the Mutual, we hope you get the opportunity for a well-earned break at some point over the next few months with friends and/or family. I sense recharging the batteries after the last 12 months will be an important input into a positive and prosperous 2022.

Finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome Adam Heath, our new incoming CEO, and Debbie Hewitt, our newly elected director, to the Mutual and wish all of our clients all the best for the festive season and beyond.

Other news from the Mutual

FMG's new CEO Adam Heath

FMG is looking forward to welcoming Adam Heath as our new Chief Executive Officer on 20 December 2021. Adam’s previous role was Executive General Manager, Insurance Solutions with Suncorp New Zealand. Adam has a strong background in general and life insurance, banking and telecommunications and has a real empathy for the Mutual model and the rural sector.

FMG's new board member Debbie Hewitt

Debbie was elected to the board at this year's Annual General Meeting. Debbie is the co-founder of her family business Hewitt Livestock Ltd., Deputy Chair on the Cranford Foundation Trust, and is currently a Rockit Global appointed Director for ROP2, licensed growers of Rockit apples. Debbie has extensive governance experience across multiple sectors, including agriculture, horticulture, and civil engineering, as well as in policy and regulatory settings.