Champion leader during the challenging times of COVID-19

Paul Hillard thrives on challenges. He knew 2020 would be busy but not quite in the way it turned out.

Paul Hillard with colleagues

Industry Champion Paul Hillard

In the face of bushfires, the introduction of a new claims management model and COVID-19, Paul Hillard mobilised his team and generated impressive outcomes.

Paul is the Claims Operations Manager at Allianz Australia, responsible for Insurance for NSW (IfNSW), supporting injured public sector workers. He has been there since 2001 and his expertise in people management, customer service and scheme intelligence is reflected in Allianz's results.

His ability to nurture a positive workplace culture is another reason he was selected as an icare Industry Champion.

New ways of working

In January last year a new contract with icare's IfNSW went live with a new claims management system. Mark Pittman, Allianz's General Manager Government Services, speaks highly of how Paul managed his team in preparation.

"Operational changes meant Paul had to realign the claims team, develop their new training modules and alert his customers of the pending changes," says Mark.

"What no-one anticipated is that within the first month we'd be hit by COVID-19 and everyone would be required to work remotely.

"On top of this, we saw a seven per cent increase in call volumes and a six per cent increase in active claims—we identified 300 new claims in bushfire-affected areas requiring additional services."

Responding to the pandemic

Globally, Allianz was preparing for a phased transition to remote working as COVID-19 spread. But when the Sydney office closed overnight in March last year, only 40 per cent of Paul's team was equipped to work from home.

Paul's quick solution was to move the early intervention team to the Charlestown office until the remote systems could be set up at home so they could onboard new customers.

"His approach was so successful, they had an increase in customer satisfaction results compared to the previous year and the return-to-work rate at 26 weeks was 91 per cent," says Mark.

"In preparation for the pandemic he had produced, in January, a claims guide to manage coronavirus. So, from the outset his team was able to provide customers with certainty during a constantly changing environment."

For Paul, remaining connected was his key priority.

"With so much change happening to our working environment as a result of COVID-19, often with little or no notice, I provided my teams with as much support as possible to help them adapt and remain connected," Paul says. 

“Our ability to continue to deliver outcomes for our customers during this period is a reflection of my teams' commitment and resilience during these challenging times.”
Paul Hillard

Paul also initiated Virtual Rehabilitation Services, a network of telehealth providers, to ensure continuity of care. This allowed the Department of Education and TAFE to support 1,500 injured staff with alternate solutions and still maintain their 26-week return-to-work rate at pre-COVID-19 levels.

"We had just commenced a new operating system and he swiftly converted classroom training to a digital program so there was minimal disruption to their training," says Mark.

"In addition, he expanded Mental Health First Aid training to the claims team and the wider division so they felt personally supported during these stressful times.

"The average length of tenure in Paul's team is seven years. That is surely testament to his foresight and dedication. He's definitely our champion."

What the judges said

The judges were equally impressed at how he managed to deliver excellent results in an ever-changing environment.

Greg Larkin, icare's General Manager Support and Specialised Claims, commented on the positive data metrics achieved by Paul and his team.

"Paul's results clearly show his ability to lead a team as well as provide great customer service to IfNSW employers. He managed to mobilise a response to COVID-19 really quickly with minimal disruption to service," says Greg.

icare Industry Champion 2020

icare's Industry Champion 2020 replaced the well-respected recognition program the Care and Service Excellence (CASE) Awards due to COVID-19.

Paul Hillard is one of 10 Industry Champions announced in March, in the category Outstanding Care & Service (Care and Support). He has been recognised by icare as a steward of excellence in the delivery of insurance and care services for the people, businesses and communities of NSW. 

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