Insurance law

'Most people don't understand how varied insurance is in terms of the type of insurance, the nature of the work and legal issues involved'

About Priya

I am a partner in the General Insurance group at TurksLegal. 

I was admitted to practice as a lawyer in 2006 after I completed a Bachelor of Business and a Bachelor of Law at UTS in 2005. Since that time I have acted exclusively for insurers providing advice on liability and indemnity issues.

I first started at Macquarie Bank working in finance but soon realised it was not for me. I then started at a small insurance firm after which I joined DLA Phillips Fox (now DLA Piper). I moved on to Moray & Agnew following which I joined TurksLegal in 2011. 

I was promoted to Senior Associate in 2012 and became a partner in January 2017.

Apart from spending a lot of time at work, I have a keen interest in all things sport (including Fantasy Football) and run every morning to keep myself fit and my mind sharp. I spend a lot of time sitting too so the running helps negate that!

What does your current role entail?

My role as a partner is quite varied. Not only am I a litigator at heart and have to advise clients but I also have to manage a team of lawyers.

I present on relevant legal and insurance issues at industry events and also conduct training for insurance clients in relation to the varying aspects of polices and the law.

A big part of my role involves networking and business development as well which means I am constantly meeting new people and engaging with people in the industry. 

What do you love most about your job?

Getting to work with intelligent, motivated and down to earth people on a daily basis and helping people achieve outcomes.

I also love that I get to work in effectively two industries, the legal industry and the insurance industry. This means that no day is the same and I am constantly learning in my role even 11 years into being a lawyer.

How does a legal role fit within the insurance industry?

You could say that a legal role fits side by side with the insurance industry.

Lawyers are often engaged to advise insurers as to whether they are entitled to deny or pay a claim. The reason for this is that if an insurer does deny a claim then it must be due to the terms and conditions of the relevant policy. However, insurers are also required to consider the law for example when dealing with a fraudulent case.

I think what a lot of people do not realise is that insurance is a key driver in litigation. People seek insurance in order to obtain some ‘protection’ against being sued or for loss they may suffer. Lawyers are therefore engaged by insurers to represent their customers’ interests in instances where they may be sued to deal with issues such as the tort of negligence or a breach of contract.

You've acted exclusively for insurers since being admitted into practice in 2006, what has drawn you to insurance

I must say that I didn’t choose insurance but it chose me. What has kept me in the industry however is that it involves such a diverse range of concepts. 
You could say that every claim that I come across is different which makes my job really interesting (and difficult sometimes) but fun.

I have defended personal injury claims, acted for an insurer who denied a claim made as a result of fire at a brothel that was owned by the Commancheros, advised clients on policy response in relation to a fire at a meth lab, defended clients when their customers sue as a result of being unhappy with their insurance payout.
Again, it’s also the people that I deal with on a daily basis.

What skills do you think someone needs to advise insurance companies on liability and indemnity issues?

The first thing is knowledge of the Insurance Contracts Act 1984 and the case law surrounding it. 

Great communication skills in dealing with insurers, their customers and your own colleagues is vital in order to express the relevant issues that may arise.

In a legal role, good time management skills are also important as insurers have time frames they have to meet so it is important to be able meet those. Essentially a good understanding of the insurer’s business is important.

What advice would you give someone who might be looking to find work as a lawyer, but may not have considered the insurance industry?

Give it a go! Most people don’t understand how varied insurance is in terms of the type of insurance, the nature of the work and the legal issues involved.
It is really interesting and challenging at the same time. Whether you have an interest in litigation or legal advice, insurance is for you!