Insurance industry no longer a faceless one, says Insurance Institute president

Darragh Guinnane,

Darragh Guinnane,

The president of the Insurance Institute of Galway, Darragh Guinnane, will step down from his role at the end of the month after a successful year at the helm of the presitigious organisation.

Mr Guinnane has 12 years’ experience as a commercial insurance specialist in Galway, experiencing the insurance industry during the country’s financial boom and recession.

Having worked at Aviva Insurance since 2002, he joined O’Leary Insurance Galway in 2007, specialising in business insurance with a focus on the hospitality sector. In 2013, Mr Guinnane was promoted to director of sales and marketing at the company while also accepting the presidency of the institute for the 2013/14 term.

The Insurance Institute of Galway is a part of a national organisation which also includes branches in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, and Sligo. The institute is the leading professional standards, education, and training body for the general insurance industry of Ireland with more than 15,000 individual members throughout the country.

As president, Mr Guinnane has overseen its development as an authority in insurance regulation in Ireland, providing 16 lectures throughout the year which aim to educate its members, ensuring that the next generation of insurance professionals are up to date with modern standards and practices. These courses are an extremely necessary resource, providing APA accredited qualifications in association with University College Dublin, while also drawing on the expertise of the institute’s most seasoned professionals.

Mr Guinnane and the Galway council have expanded the sports and social side of the institute, which he feels is an important resource especially for recruiting younger members and connecting them with industry professionals. During the past year the institute has achieved this through charity and networking events, including a 50-strong group participating in the Inis Oirr 10K run raising upwards of €7,500 for suicide crisis centre Pieta House, and a sponsored climb of Croagh Patrick last July in aid of St Vincent de Paul.

In February Mr Guinnane hosted the annual President’s Dinner at the Ardilaun Hotel, attended by 340 insurance professionals, which featured special guest speakers such as Pat McDonagh of Supermac’s, sports journalist Marty Morrissey, Dublin hurling manager Anthony Daly, and ex-Galway hurling captain and All-Ireland winner Joe Connolly. Mr Guinnane also awarded the President’s Trophy to Kevin Lee of Zurich Insurance in recognition of his 37 years of service to the local industry.

“In recent times we have seen the insurance industry growing steadily, despite the market contracting, which also attracts younger members now who are looking for more stable and secure employment,” says Guinnane. “This is no longer a faceless industry, we are interested in a more face to face and personal approach to insurance.”

As Darragh Guinnane comes to the end of his term, he firmly believes that there is a bright future ahead for the industry, citing the upcoming election for the Galway insurance council where for the first time there will be 28 members competing for 20 available positions. He also considers the influx of younger members who are engaging with the institute through networking events and the educational programmes as an essential part of this future.

“I certainly see the industry as a growth sector in Ireland today,” he said. “We have steadied the ship during the recession. We now have a lot more call centres, online facilities and also intermediaries entering the market and with that more employment is always going to follow.”


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