Telum Talks To... John Deex, Managing Editor at insuranceNEWS

Telum Talks To... John Deex, Managing Editor at insuranceNEWS

For someone who has never read insuranceNEWS, can you explain what specific areas you cover?
We cover the insurance industry, so mostly general insurance but also life insurance, and anything that affects it. This means we cover a huge range of topics in addition to developments at insurance companies. A few examples of issues that impact on insurance are trends in natural catastrophes, cybersecurity, building defects, health, the global economy, and insolvencies. 
We primarily focus on Australia, but also cover New Zealand and the rest of the world. Insurance is a global business. What happens overseas can impact us here, and sometimes actions by courts or regulators in the UK or US can be replicated in the local market.
How have you seen the publication change during your time as Managing Editor?
The core fundamentals to provide clear, relevant and timely information to help insurance professionals understand the issues and make better business decisions have not changed. However, during that time we have adjusted our online publishing format to accommodate changing reader habits.

In 2015, we were essentially a weekly online publication, putting out our news in a Monday afternoon bulletin and only supplemented by major breaking news as and when it happened. We still publish a Monday round-up and breaking news, but now we also publish articles every other working day, and have launched a new Thursday newsletter aimed specifically at insurance brokers.
We’ve also focused on expanding our social media presence and have launched a popular weekly podcast. We remain committed to a hard copy of our printed magazine, but we have also developed an online version of the magazine to make the content easier to read across different devices.
The basics are the same, but we’ve responded to the demand from readers for more timely news updates across a variety of channels.
How would an aspiring insurance journalist impress you and what do you look for?
The insurance side, that can be learnt, but a journalist in our newsroom needs to be able to write accurate copy at a fast pace. There’s a lot of work to get through, but it’s got to be right; our reputation depends on it. Accuracy isn’t just about facts and figures, and spellings of names. It’s about tone, and being fair and balanced.
The other key quality is the ability to step back, think, and be curious. We don’t just reproduce press releases. We find the context, ask questions, and figure out what it all means.
Are there any misconceptions about the insurance industry?
The major one is that insurers will take your money in premiums and then won’t pay a genuine claim. It’s just not how the industry operates. An ASIC review of the Black Summer bush fires of 2019-20 found that 99 percent of claims were paid either in full or in part.
Insurance does not cover every eventuality, but sometimes people think it should. What is and isn’t covered is set out very specifically in policy documents and, as tiresome as it is, people need to read and understand them.
That’s not to say that there are never any problems with claims. There can be long waits for claimants after catastrophes and on rare occasions, insurers do let their customers down. While we will defend the industry from unfair criticism, we never shy away from covering these issues.
What types of leads and pitches excite you?
Proper news. Lots of press releases are fluff - someone saying something about something - or trying to spruik a product. Everyone wants to be seen as an expert, but the most popular articles on our site contain actual news, such as an appointment, an exit, an acquisition, a sale, a regulatory action, a court ruling, or research findings.
Make sure your pitch is interesting and not something that’s been said a thousand times before. Find the actual news within the company you’re representing and send us the exclusive.

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John Deex

Managing Editor


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