It was a youthful desire to carve his own path that in 1973, led Tony Morgan to leave his father’s insurance broking business and begin his lifetime career in loss adjusting.
“I sensed it was more than an occupation and looking back over the years, I can say loss adjusting has been a vocation in the literal sense of the word,” says Morgan, who is National Executive Adjuster at Sedgwick, and winner of the 2023 ANZIIF Lifetime Achiever award.
Shaped by faith
As a Christian, Morgan says the inspiration and teachings of Jesus have been the most significant influence across every area of his life, along with his father’s guidance, which he’s come to appreciate more as he gets older.
“I was blessed to have six great mentors, each a partner in the [former Sedgwick] business when I first joined it,” he adds. “With their different styles and strengths, I was inspired to glean the best from each one.”
Over the past fifty years, Morgan has been a business leader, a respected loss adjusting practitioner, and a powerful advocate for education in the insurance industry.
As a loss adjuster, he has managed some of the largest and most complex property claims in the region.
He has also authored or co-authored three textbooks for the industry and recently produced a second edition of the classic text he first published twenty years ago, The Art of Loss Adjusting.
Inspiring trust and respect
Morgan says a true leader has respect for the people they lead, which in turn inspires trust and a positive response to direction and encouragement.
“Your own example as a leader is critical, as is your ability to discern and draw the best out of people,” he says.
“As a loss adjuster, you often start an assignment in a scene of devastation, maybe in the smouldering ruins of a factory complex after a fire or among the scattered wreckage of a tourist resort hit by a cyclone.
“The owners are often distraught, not knowing where or how to start picking up the pieces. But you know, if things work like they should, recovery is not only possible, but an even better outcome can sometimes be crafted.”
One of Morgan’s most satisfying outcomes involved a large crane struck by a ship at a Sydney container port. The stevedore’s insurance policy covered the cost of replacing the crane and the associated business interruption.
“Costings showed that a new crane to the same specification would cost around $12,000,000 and involve a lead time of about eighteen months,” Morgan tells.
Rather than ordering a new crane, an older one from a Melbourne port was brought to Sydney and upgraded. It was replaced with a new crane in the final stages of manufacture, more than compensating for the lost capacity in Melbourne.
“The total cost of the plan was around $7,500,000 and the downtime was greatly reduced.
“The stevedoring company ended up with one less crane but a more efficient operation with greater productivity,” Morgan says.
“The insurers ended up paying much less than they would have if the claim had run along the lines of linear thinking. It was a win-win that delighted all stakeholders.”
As President of the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters (Australasian Division) between 1994 and 1996, Morgan played a leading role in the unification of three loss adjusting institutions representing Australia and New Zealand by forming the Australasian Institute of Chartered Loss Adjusters (AICLA).
“We were convinced that competing against each other in a relatively small market was not good for the future of the profession,” he recalls.
“But the greatest challenge was what to do about the royal charter we operated under, as it afforded us a jealously guarded status. For a merger to work, our choices were to form a new, unchartered institute or obtain a new charter.”
Moving on without the credibility of a charter was untenable for most of Morgan’s members, so a compelling application was submitted to the Australian Government, whose approval was required.
But it was the lead-up to the referendum on whether Australia would become a republic, and the politics of royal charters were fraught, given some considered them an outdated relic of colonialism. The submission was rejected by the responsible minister.
Unwilling to relive three unsuccessful merger attempts between the Institute of Chartered Accountants and CPA Australia, Morgan had one last card to play.
He enlisted a family connection with the Prime Minister John Howard himself. Shortly after, the decision was reversed, paving the way for AICLA as the new chartered body for loss adjusters in the APAC region.
Steeped in knowledge
For Morgan, education and professional development are also critical if the industry is to deliver on its promises.
“Each of us has a unique set of gifts and abilities but they need to be developed and combined with knowledge,” he says.
To that end, Morgan was instrumental in the development of the ANZIIF Diploma of Loss Adjusting program in 1996, as well as personally authoring four of the associated modules and being the principal subject matter expert in three of the new online modules.
He has served on several education focused ANZIIF councils, including the Academic Council, the Professional Association Council and the Journal Advisory Committee.
In 2004, he joined the ANZIIF board, which saw him contributing an extended term of 12 years, including two as president between 2012 and 2014. He is noted for being only the second loss adjuster to become president during ANZIIF’s more than 130-year history.
“I have enjoyed the opportunities my involvement with ANZIIF has provided to learn, to network and to influence change,” he says. “It is an old cliché but a true one, that the more you give, the more you get.”
With an ongoing role at Sedgwick, Morgan plans to continue mentoring younger colleagues and passing on the art of loss adjusting. He’ll also remain on several educational boards outside of the industry.
For the future, he is looking forward to travelling with his wife and enjoying time with his “seven precious grandchildren”, who live in immediately adjacent houses.
“I have the privilege of being part of the pastoral care team in my local church and that will continue to be an important focus for me,” he says.
“As I look back over fifty years of managing insurance claims, I’m grateful that technological developments have enhanced the work we can do and I’m grateful for the emerging generation of claims professionals who bring significant new technical skills to that work.
“At the same time, while the science of loss adjusting has increased significantly, it has become more important than ever to preserve the underlying skills that constitute the art of loss adjusting.
“These include the uniquely human dimensions of empathy and intuition needed to create the best outcome with at least the more complex insurance claims.”
Image: Prue Willsford, ANZIIF CEO with ANZIIF 2023 Lifetime Achiever Tony Morgan, Sedgwick