1 May 2017 marks a very special occasion for AIG: sixty years of business in Australia.
Six decades ago we were attracted to Australia because of the insurance potential of the Snowy Mountain scheme. We have remained for the wealth of opportunities across everything from large commercial property developments to crocodile, and shark insurance.
We started out in Australia with five employees, based in an unfinished building in Melbourne. We have since flourished to 400 employees across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth.
We are proud of our achievements over the years, from the development of award-winning insurance products and claims paying to our commitment to diversity, inclusion and growth.
To pay tribute to our heritage, this microsite has been created to showcase AIG Australia’s story over the last sixty years. I hope you enjoy taking a trip down memory lane.
On behalf of myself and my colleagues, I would like to sincerely thank you: our brokers, clients and business partners, for your enduring support over the years. We look forward to an exciting and prosperous future with you all in this wonderful country.
Contact, AIG's global internal newsletter, was how the AIG offices all over the world could share their news and successes with each other. Below are sample articles from Contact highlighting significant Australian milestones from 1957 to 2015, giving you a glimpse into AIG Australia (formerly AIU) over the last 60 years.
Please click on the images below to read the articles.
When did you start working at AIG (known as American International Underwriters in 1959)?
I joined the company in the Melbourne Head office in May 1959 as the 13th employee Australia-wide.
What was your role at AIU?
When I started in 1959, I was hired to act as an underwriter for all lines of business. At the time, the major clients of AIU San Francisco, Kaiser Perini and Utah Construction, were building the Snowy Mountain Hydro Electric Project. In June 1960 I was requested to visit the sites to conduct a fire safety report which was a great learning experience.
After being appointed Victorian Manager, I undertook my first visit to the New York Head office in 102 Maiden Lane. I met all the underwriting executives at their weekly meeting chaired by Al Weber Underwriting Manager World Wide who impressed me greatly with his knowledge. On my return, I was requested to attend a Personal Accident Conference to be chaired by M.R.Greenberg in South East Asia and this proved to be the birth of this product in Australia, of which I was to be solely in charge of in addition to my other responsibilities.
This opportunity proved to be the best challenge I could have expected as we became the leader in Australia, with the introduction of new products which attracted Brokers, recognising that we were also introducing other products such as Retrospective Rating Workers Compensation, Comprehensive General Liability, Contractor All Risks and broader coverages in many other lines. At this time Larry (Wilkenson – CEO at the time) and I decided to establish Profit Centre Managers in line with the New York office as underwriting for profit was to be practised.
By 1981 the Australian and New Zealand operations became the third largest AIU foreign operation which then resulted in New York locating US executives on our shores which I guess was to be expected.
Why do you think Larry Wilkinson was chosen to open the Australian Operation?
MR C V Starr chose very wisely. Mr F. Larry Wilkinson was ideal as he was born in Liverpool, UK. Most Australians had an English Heritage. He also served in the Canadian Navy during WW2 and he was a US citizen. Larry established the company to accept business from Registered Brokers whether local or Lloyds Affiliate and not deal direct to the public. This decision proved to be a master stroke in future years.
To only accept business from brokers created a major opportunity for AIU Australia. During the mid-70s when interest and inflation were on the rise, and all the Major Brokers from the USA such as Marshmac, Johnson & Higgins plus UK Stenhouse Bowrings were firmly established, thus the CEO’s and Finance Directors of the large companies became accountable which resulted in many more opportunities being available to AIU Australia.