Statewide Mutual was formed in 1993 with one aim: to help councils navigate a difficult insurance market and attain secure cover.
Today, 30 years on, we’re Australia’s largest local government mutual scheme – with 113 NSW councils in our membership.
And our founding ethos is still just as strong.
Here’s our story: the what, how and why Statewide became what we are.
An idea born of desperation
It was the early 90s. The World Wide Web had just become publicly available. Sydney was earning its reputation as one of the best cities in the world.
It was also a time of change in the appetite of global insurers, making it extremely difficult – if not impossible – to obtain the cover required for local government to operate.
Underwriters were charging extremely high premiums – or worse, turning councils away altogether. Put simply, they found the broad range of risks faced by local government difficult to understand.
Leo Demer, one of our founding board members, recalls the difficult situation at that time.
“Cover was restricted, and some was withdrawn. We were looking at 300%-400% increases in premiums. It was really, really, bad,” he recalls.
Because councils couldn’t get liability insurance, swimming pools were closed. Local events were cancelled. And the communities suffered.
“I remember seeing the front page of a local newspaper with a picture of a little girl in a ballet dress in tears,” Leo continues, “because a local carnival had been cancelled.”
Those were desperate times, and councils were in a lot of pain.
After trying again and again – and in vain – to secure affordable cover for councils, Leo and his JLT colleagues thought: There must be a better way to do this.
That was when they spoke to a few council leaders and came up with the idea and structure for Statewide Mutual.
The cogs began to turn
While the idea for the Mutual was fantastic, the journey to get there was not easy.
Leo understood the value local government provides our communities – and the need to have insurance cover to achieve those goals. So he formed a working party with nine members (representing nine councils) to collaborate and develop solutions.
But one of the biggest challenges, as expected, was getting the insurers to come on board.
“We had to structure an arrangement that would make them more comfortable about accepting the risks,” Leo says.
“We would pool a whole lot of councils together with multiple insurers. To ensure the risk was spread across the councils – and the loss spread across a number of insurers.”
And that idea worked.
A journey of challenges and growth
Through extensive collaboration and determination, Statewide Mutual kicked off in 1993, with 96 member councils.
Since then, it’s always been about troubleshooting, problem-solving, and continual improvement. And above all, building genuine relationships with our members.
There were challenges along the way, for sure.
“Just when it feels as though we’ve seen everything that could give rise to a claim, something new appears,” Leo laughs.
“New exposures keep popping up all the time. Councils keep getting handed more responsibilities, whether they want it or not – and they always try to do the right thing. It’s a very difficult balancing act, and that can sometimes create risk.”
But through the past three decades, Statewide has done what it set out to do: support councils in their claims and risk management the best we can. With solutions that nobody else could – or would – offer.
“That’s one of the best things that Statewide has done and continues to do,” Leo adds. “We’re totally dedicated to protecting the interests of our member council’s and their ratepayers. And I’m very proud of that.”
Success built by the hands – and hearts – of many
Fast forward to 2023. Statewide has come a long way.
From nine member councils at inception, to 96 councils when we kicked off, to 113 members today.
Statewide Mutual Executive Officer, Naamon Eurell, also acknowledges the hard work that went into building the foundations of the Mutual.
“For me, what’s driven our scheme is the passion and dedication of the people who set it up and who worked in it. I was lucky enough to come in just as the founders of the Mutual were going into retirement.
“All were proud of what they did. And all worked as hard as they could to make sure that the customer experience was second to none.”
A conviction that will only grow stronger
As we celebrate our 30th anniversary this year, one thing is clear: we’re not settling or stopping anytime soon.
We’ll keep evolving and adapting our services and processes. So we can assist, stay current, meet our members’ needs, and provide the best cover for emerging risks.
“We’ll continue to look at ways to do things better, while being true to what we’re here for,” Naamon says. “Which is a stable, robust vehicle to get you through the bad times and out the other side – without a dent in your back pocket.”
In 1993, Statewide Mutual was created by councils, for councils.
Thirty years later, our commitment to our members has only strengthened. And we’ll continue to stand by our ethos for the many more years ahead.
We are your mutual.