APIA, SAMOA- 18 APRIL 2023: One of the greatest joys of my job is being able to travel to the Pacific countries Tower operates in to connect with our teams, customers and partners. I am so thrilled to finally visit American Samoa and Samoa for the first time since the pandemic began.
It’s a chance to get together and really delve into how we can improve our customer experience and raise insurance accessibility and awareness across both countries.
Continuing to invest in the Pacific
Tower has been helping to protect Pacific Island customers and communities with insurance for over 140 years, having opened our first Pacific office in the late 1800s.
For more than a century, we’ve been able to tap into local talent, expertise and important perspectives on issues like product development and more recently, climate change.
Our customers and teams are at the heart of everything we do and a significant focus for us in 2023 is continuing to invest in the communities we live and work in. As part of this, I’m proud to say that 100% of our staff across Samoa and American Samoa are Samoan nationals and two-thirds of our staff are women – proof that you don’t have to leave your home in the Pacific to progress in a successful financial services career.
Rebranding National Pacific Insurance to Tower
Some of our team members have joined the Tower family from National Pacific Insurance, after Tower took full ownership of NPI at the end of 2021. It’s an exciting union over 40 years in the making, having first partnered together in 1977, the same year NPI was founded.
While the name above the door has changed, the same trusted, local faces make up our businesses. Our teams have been very enthusiastic throughout the rebrand process, not least because with the Tower name comes new, better ways for locals to manage and access their insurance online.
It’s great to finally be here with our teams who are so passionate about Tower’s mission to revolutionise insurance in the Pacific, by making it easier to use and simpler to access for all our customers.
Tower is deeply committed to protecting and bolstering the resilience of Pacific communities.
Each year we pay out up to NZ$20m worth of claims for our customers in the Pacific, this number includes things like supporting our customers in Tonga to recover from the Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha.apai eruption and tsunami, and large events such as cyclones.
In October 2022, we began piloting a new parametric insurance product, Cyclone Response Cover in Fiji. I am excited to announce that work is underway to expand the product pilot to Samoa for the 2023/2024 Cyclone Season. We’ll continue to bring new insurance offerings to Samoa and American Samoa in future, as this product suite evolves.
Past events – like Cyclone Wilma in 2011 which affected Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga, and Cyclone Evan in Samoa in 2013 – prove parametric products like this are needed in the Pacific, while the recent devastation caused by Cyclone Judy and Cyclone Kevin in Vanuatu signals to us that this work has never been more important. Our thoughts are with all those in Vanuatu and we are committed to supporting our customers through what we know is an incredibly difficult time.
In New Zealand, we’ve recently seen first-hand with widespread flooding and Cyclone Gabrielle, how harnessing digital and data capabilities like My Tower greatly improves the speed of a large event response, allowing our communities to get back on their feet and back to real-life faster.
I am so proud to share that in March 2023, we completed the rollout of this same innovative digital offering across our Pacific operations.
As part of our plan to dramatically increase insurance accessibility, My Tower is the first ever fully digital self-service insurance platform in American Samoa, Samoa and the wider Pacific, that allows people to pay their insurance premiums; get a quote; purchase a policy and view their motor vehicle, house and contents policies, all in one simple online portal.
In New Zealand, 97% of homes are insured but in the Pacific Islands, this figure is less than 10%. We protect around 30,000 customers in the Pacific with insurance, near 4,000 of these in American Samoa and more than 1,000 in Samoa but, we know that to ensure the protection and longevity of Pacific communities now and in future, it’s vital that we increase insurance coverage for all Pacific people. This is especially important with climate change contributing to an increase in weather events.
A key piece of this puzzle is improving insurance accessibility and education, that’s why My Tower is such a huge step forward. Ultimately, it’s changing how people interact with insurance for the better by making it easier than ever before to access and obtain.
As part of our ongoing commitment in the Pacific, we are investing around NZ$7 million into the region each year to enhance our operations, provide innovative services to our customers, and create new jobs. Subsequently, we’ve seen a huge amount of growth across all countries but we’re not done yet.
Many more opportunities await across the Pacific, I am thoroughly excited to discuss these prospects in-country this week with our partners and teams and look forward to sharing these and other new developments with our Samoan communities in due course.