If you have a good story to tell, then tell it, says Nick Starling

I am a great believer in story telling.

If you have a good story to tell, then tell it. As an industry we constantly have stories told against us, but we are not good at broadcasting our achievements. Strange, considering the vital role we play in most people’s everyday lives, and in UK plc.

You cannot expect people to say nice things about you if you do not tell them.

Take the industry’s response to last summer’s floods. We can be justifiably proud of how we responded to the biggest natural catastrophe in the UK in living memory. Dealing with one major flood is a challenge in itself. Dealing with two in quick succession required an enormous commitment from everybody in the industry. We rose to that challenge.

Claim to fame
From drafting in extra claims staff from as far away as the US, to buying up fleets of caravans to get people in temporary accommodation as quickly as possible, there are many examples of how, when disaster strikes, the industry responds quickly and effectively. The £3 billion insurers will have paid out would have paid for four new Wembley stadiums, and dwarfs the Government’s emergency aid package to those areas most badly affected. We must not shy away from telling this – indeed we at the ABI have been telling this story to all who would listen over the past year.

“This is an industry that delivers to its customers. It is a story I will not tire in telling.

Now our cynics may say ‘well you would say that wouldn’t you?’.

Well, don’t just take my word for it. The findings from independently–commissioned recent ABI research show our customers agree. The survey shows that those affected last summer rate the response of insurers above that of local authorities, the Environment Agency and the Government. And the Financial Ombudsman has reported a very low level of complaints following the massive number of claims insurers have handled.

The events of last summer were horrific. The consequences are still being felt by many people who were flooded. But they highlighted more effectively than any expensive advertising campaign that, at times when it is most needed, this is an industry that delivers to its customers. It’s a story I will not tire in telling.

Nick Starling is Director of General Insurance and Health at the Association of British Insurers.