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Leading Australian strata insurer CHU’s 40th anniversary

Strata insurance – the past and future. 

In 1978 Corporate Home Unit Underwriting, the first strata insurance specialist in Australia, was established. Forty years on CHU, as it’s now known, is Australia’s leading strata insurer.

On 16 February 1979 CHU wrote its first policy for 24A, 26 Macquarie Place, Mortdale, NSW. It cost $439.45. In that year NSW had about 14,000 blocks of residential home units. By the end of that year CHU insured nearly 500 of them.

The demand for strata insurance started to gather speed in the 80s, although it was not seen as a part of mainstream insurance for some time, with CHU remaining the sole strata insurer until 1999.

CHU’s success was noted by the bigger insurance players in Australia and in November 2005, QBE acquired CHU from the founders.

CHU continued to grow and in 2015 there was another change in ownership. The Steadfast Group acquired CHU and this saw a renewed focus and strategic direction for CHU.

CHU now offers the most comprehensive cover in the market for residential strata, commercial strata, community title, company title, non-strata units and landlords and contents for strata.

So, what does the future hold for strata insurance and the strata community?

“The digitalisation of strata insurance has begun, however, strata insurance is lagging other general insurance lines in that regard. That will absolutely change. The charge has been led by CHU with its introduction of straight through processing 24/7,” said CHU CEO, Mr Bobby Lehane.

“The demand for tailored more flexible insurance policies is growing and the need to simplify the core strata insurance product is vital.”

“The shift to brokers providing strata insurance will continue to accelerate.  With the increasing complexity of schemes strata insurance is – and will continue to be – an ideal avenue for brokers to help their clients,” he said.

“Smaller self-managed schemes will increasingly purchase their insurance online and, again, CHU is well placed to meet this digital demand.”

Mr Lehane added, “CHU’s future strategy is very much geared to prepare for the changes we see to the market in the coming three to five years, which we believe to be enormous.”

In the near future, the strata insurance industry will see:

Increased automation and shift to digital platforms and self-service. 

“While strata insurance is lagging other general insurance lines that will absolutely change. With the roll out of CHU StrataTech to intermediaries and our digital transformation plan for CHU we are well positioned to address this change. This will also address the emerging needs of a mobile and flexible workforce that is becoming the norm,” said Mr Lehane.

Flexibility of core Strata Insurance product.

The core strata Insurance package product has become increasingly complicated and rigid over the years. Commented Mr Lehane: “This type of product will come under increasing scrutiny as educated consumers seek to pay for only what they need. CHU is leading with CHUiSAVER’s products, moving to higher minimum excesses more appropriate for strata cover and a streamlined, tailored product offering choice and flexibility outside of mandatory covers. Successful changes to this product will be applied to our core CHU product over the next few years.”

Shift to Broker.

The increasing complexity of schemes and changing legislation requiring multiple quotes will continue to drive a shift to broker for strata insurance. CHU has moved to 60% through broker over the past two years. “We are creating the toolset and the service to support this change, and continue to anticipate that 80% of Strata will be through a broker in three years’ time,” Mr Lehane said.

Growth of Direct for smaller schemes, and change of buying behaviours. 

Smaller schemes, with no strata manager or broker involved will increasingly look to purchase their insurance online as with other transactions. “We will support this through the full quote and bind functionality offered by StrataTech,” said Mr Lehane.

The age-old Australian dream of owning your own home is changing.

Research shows an increasing number of Australian families will rent, possibly for their entire lives. A concept new to Australia but growing overseas is ‘build to rent’, with developers in expensive cities building apartment blocks that would be entirely for rent. “In Australia the concept is only just started to take-off and, with the rental market growing, developers are reconsidering the idea. The New South Wales and Victorian governments are now looking at ways to encourage developers to invest in apartment blocks that would be entirely available for rent,” Mr Lehane said

FOOTNOTE: CHU celebrated its 40th anniversary in Sydney on September 7 with more than 250 strata industry guests attending – a few photos of the event at Pier One in Sydney below: