The insurance industry’s people-centric core is well hidden, yet this could be the key to patching up the sector’s reputation

By Associate Editor Katie Scott

Well, I’ve survived my first year in the insurance industry – and what a year it’s been.

I joined the Insurance Times team on the cusp of October 2019 as it fell into November, and I was instantly drawn into discussions surrounding the future of the whiplash reforms ahead of December’s general election, as well as getting up to speed on the Ardonagh-Gallagher poaching saga.

I also joined just in time for the exciting build-up to my first Insurance Times Awards, which were last year held in the Great Room at the incredibly glamourous Grosvenor House Hotel in London’s Mayfair.

Katie Scott_bw_path

Katie Scott

A lot can change in a year – as 2020 has demonstrated incredibly aptly – but I just thought I would share some of my fresh-eyed takeaways about an industry that has undoubtedly had a tumultuous year.


For me, the outsider’s perception of the insurance industry is all wrong. At a glance, many assume it is a yawn-worthy career path inundated with numbers, spreadsheets, financial information and heavy regulation.

While this stereotype may not be entirely fictional at times, it is also quite different to my own experience, in the main.

I’ve discovered that people are the lifeblood of the insurance sector, and that it is an industry centred on business relationships that develop into true friendships, big characters and personalities that seek to champion good causes and a shared sector goal of wanting to support clients and policyholders to the best of its ability.

The industry is wonderfully social, personable and welcoming – a side that is little seen by those outside of it.

Business culture is also a dominant driver, especially in terms of M&A activity.

Pretty much every business I have spoken to – including Ethos Broking, PIB Group and Howden Group Holdings to name a few – all agreed that the culture of an organisation plays a huge part in the acquisition process and that crafting the right culture is of the utmost importance, both in terms of organisational aims and to support staff careers.

This people-centric core of insurance certainly makes it an interesting and vivid place to work – perhaps if this facet was more evident, it could act as a pick-me-up for the sector’s flagging reputation as it would demonstrate that the industry cares a lot more than policyholders maybe believe.

Business interruption

The Covid-19 pandemic has coloured almost every component within the insurance sector and has definitely been a key influence on our work and the stories we covered this year.

For me, the debate around business interruption (BI) insurance has certainly been the proverbial rock and hard place.

Although I completely appreciate the sheer volume of BI claims faced by insurers had them scouring policy wordings to double check coverage in order to mitigate the potential financial wrecking ball, I can also see the point of view of policyholders, many of whom were struggling to save their livelihoods.

I even wrote a series of case study features, depicting the stories of a railway owner, skincare salon owner and B&B owner in their plights to receive a claim payout.

This situation turned the screw in terms of the sector’s reputation – already mistrusted by many, the tales of declined claims only worsened the picture.

But, 2021 should be a year of action. We should hopefully have the Supreme Court’s final ruling on any outstanding business interruption issues and with the vaccine beginning to sound more of a certainty, there is hope for a form of normality yet - even if the insurance industry has been irrevocably altered by Covid-19.