The CEO and chair at Freedom Insurance are out as the company deals with the royal commission fallout

  • Insurance industry figure Pauline Vamos will be the new independent chair of Freedom Insurance, the company criticised in the royal commission for selling life and funeral insurance to an intellectually disabled man.
  • Sean Williamson will be the new CEO.
  • Craig Orton, who only joined the company in February, is leaving for “personal reasons”.

Freedom Insurance, savaged in the financial services royal commission for its telephone sales tactics, is getting a new chair and CEO.

A sort time ago, Freedom Insurance shares were up 12.7% to $0.062. They are still a long way from the 12 month high of $0.56.

Pauline Vamos, with 30 years experience in the insurance and financial services industry, will become the new chair of the board of directors, replacing David Hancock.

And Sean Williamson, who spent 10 years in senior leadership at Australia’s largest life insurer, TAL, will become CEO.

Williamson is currently consulting to Freedom and will continue until the current Chief Executive Officer, Craig Orton, leaves for “personal reasons” before the end of this calendar year.

Orton, who joined Freedom in in February this year as Chief Operating Officer, took over from company founder and CEO Keith Cohen.

Orton represented the company at the royal commission where he apologised on behalf of Freedom for selling life and funeral insurance to a intellectually disabled man.

Non-executive director Katrina Glendinning has also resigned as a director effective today. Another director, David Hancock, says he will resign at the end of the 2018 Annual General Meeting.

In August the company announced a strategic review following a report by corporate regulator ASIC on direct life insurance, saying it intends to restrict outbound sales of life and funeral insurance in order to protect consumers.

Last month Freedom announced the suspension of telephone sales and a restructuring of operations to focus on the maintenance and servicing of existing policy holders while examining options for the business.

Freedom cut its staff to 90 employees from 230, resulting in annual savings of $12 million plus $15 million in annual operating expenses.

Restructuring costs are estimated at $5 million.

Freedom in August reported a 14.3% increase in full year revenue to $61.34 million. Net profit after tax was $13.15 million, down 6.5%.