Carolyn Majda started at Terri Scheer Insurance in 2004, working in a marketing management role. Over the past six years, Carolyn has taken on greater responsibility of the company and was appointed General Manager in 2009. Terri Scheer Insurance is the only company in Australia to specialise solely in landlord insurance.
Business SA: Can you tell us about your career and how it led to Terri Scheer Insurance?
Carolyn: Over the past 25 years I have worked in a variety of interesting roles.
In my early 20s, I was the manager of an innovative fast food company. The responsibility of managing a store at such a young age gave me a taste of leadership and business in general. The managing director of the business was very entrepreneurial – he created an exciting work environment and plenty of career development opportunities. His inspiration gave me a real desire to succeed.
After starting a family, I undertook study in business and marketing in order to improve my knowledge and skill level. At the same time, I commenced work in body corporate management. This gave me great exposure to the real estate industry, for which I’ve always had a passion.
Business SA: What would be the highlights of your career to date?
Carolyn: The past six years while working at Terri Scheer Insurance.
The opportunity to have worked with company founder Terri Scheer before the business became part of the Suncorp Group in 2007 was amazing, to say the least. Terri was a real mentor to me.
In 2009, I was appointed General Manager and given full responsibility for the business operations. This has been the biggest challenge and possibly the greatest satisfaction of my career to date.
Other highlights have included being part of Terri Scheer Insurance when we won the 2004 Telstra South Australian Small Business of the Year Award, and again in 2006 when Terri won the Telstra Business Woman of the Year Award. These were both very exciting and inspiring moments.
Business SA: Can you outline the services that Terri Scheer Insurance provides?
Carolyn: Terri Scheer Insurance provides insurance cover for landlords, protecting them against the risks associated with owning a rental property.
These include malicious damage by tenants, accidental damage, legal liability for occurrences on the property that cause death or bodily injury, and loss of rental income as a result of damage to a property or a tenant absconding.
As a South-Australian based national insurance firm, Terri Scheer Insurance is the only company in Australia to specialise solely in landlord insurance.
Business SA: Why is landlord insurance so important?
Carolyn: Terri Scheer Insurance figures show that Australia’s uninsured landlords could be collectively losing more than $70 million per year from their own pockets in loss of rental income, legal liability claims and fixing damage to their investment properties caused by tenants. This is costing some landlords thousands of dollars when it could be avoided.
Adequate insurance can ease a landlord’s concerns about receiving regular rental payments, no matter what may happen to the property.
Business SA: How does landlord insurance differ from a standard building insurance policy?
Carolyn: A standard building insurance policy is not an adequate form of protection when renting out a property, as it does not include cover for landlord-specific risks.
The most common risks for a landlord are malicious damage by a tenant, theft, accidental damage, legal liability and loss of rental income.
Business SA: What are the most rewarding aspects of your role?
Carolyn: I gain great satisfaction from my role as General Manager. Watching the business grow, particularly during the global financial crisis, has been rewarding.
I also enjoy being a part of my team’s career development – it’s exciting to watch them grow within their roles and to be able to provide them with new opportunities.
I have a great team and we provide great service. I often receive emails of praise from customers for a job that one of my staff members has done well. This is something we share as a team and gives me great pleasure to receive. It is very satisfying when our customers take the time to acknowledge good service.
Business SA: Can you please outline some tips for safeguarding an investment property?
Carolyn: There are a number of measures landlords can put in place to help protect their investment and safeguard their rental property. These include:
• Offer an attractive property to tenants – the ultimate goal for any landlord is to find a tenant who will treat the property as if it were their own.
• Appoint a property manager – as a landlord, you are responsible for servicing maintenance requirements, addressing potential liabilities and conducting regular inspections, all of which can take up a significant amount of your time. If you appoint a property manager, they can take care of all of this for you.
• Undertake regular inspections – regular inspections will help you to identify any maintenance requirements that may pose a legal liability risk.
• Respond promptly to maintenance requests – as a landlord, once you have been alerted to maintenance issues, it is your responsibility to act on these or authorise your property manager to take the necessary action.
• Obtain appropriate landlord insurance – landlords should choose a comprehensive and secure policy that covers them against malicious and accidental damage, as well as loss of rental income if the tenant absconds or leaves a property unable to be relet while damages are repaired.
Business SA: What major changes and new trends are you experiencing in your industry?
Carolyn: As a business working within a niche market, it often seems like we are working in the real estate industry rather than the insurance industry. The real estate and insurance industries equally affect what we do.
From an insurance aspect, interest rates and property taxes have a big impact on people’s attitudes towards investment.
We are currently noticing an increase in landlords signing up for insurance. I believe the recent economic time that we’ve experienced has a lot to do with this. Insurance is a safety net against things that can go wrong. For example, in an investment situation if the tenant lost their job, many landlords wouldn’t be able to sustain that loss for a long period of time, especially if the property is mortgaged.
Competition in the landlord insurance market has also increased in recent years. This increase in competition only inspires us to improve what we do, which is of course, great news for landlords. Terri Scheer Insurance is still the only insurance provider to specialise solely in the provision of landlord insurance.
Business SA: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Carolyn: I don’t have a great deal of spare time, so when I do have it, I guard it passionately.
I love spending time with family and friends over a nice meal. I take great pleasure in preparing good food for the people I care about.
Riding my bike, pottering around the garden and reading a good book are also personal favourites.