Insurance Times’ new editorial staff provide their thoughts on their first experiences of the Biba conference 

Following their first experience covering the annual Biba conference in Manchester last week (10-11 May 2023), junior reporter Chantal Kapani and deputy news editor James Cowen provide their key takeaways from the event.

By junior reporter Chantal Kapani

At the first of what will surely be many Biba conferences, amidst the buzz of conversation and excitement, the whole UK insurance industry seemed to have fit itself into the Manchester Central Convention Complex. 

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Chantal Kapani

Before joining the industry, some of the words I’d heard used to describe the insurance sector were “boring, old and stale”. Another version repeated a number of times by speakers at the conference was “white, pale and male”.

These preconceptions hung in the air upon arrival, but the scene in front of my face forced a reconsideration. 

As Partners& client advisor Florence Dennis delivered a lecture session entitled Insurance Broking – What Does Good Look Like, it became clear the insurance industry wasn’t as traditional as people might think it is.

And earlier in the year, speaking at the Bravo Networks’ Accelerator conference (2 March 2023), Aviva’s regional broker distribution director Ryan Birbeck admitted that “we do have an image problem for the younger generation”.

Prior to becoming a part of Insurance Times, there was a prevailing belief that the insurance sector was predominantly populated by middle-aged men, offering limited opportunities for Gen Z, women and individuals from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

However, the crowd at Biba evidenced that this notion was primarily based on assumptions, rather than reality.

As the curtains closed on the conference, I was left with a feeling that the insurance industry could do more to demonstrate its accepting nature for everyone.

Though its traditional reputation still lingers, change has clearly emerged with a clear path towards progress.

The make-up of the crowd at the conference served as a testament to this progress, with diverse representatives from all walks of life converging in a single space, united by a common goal.

By deputy news editor James Cowen

During the Biba conference, it was highlighted that the insurance industry needs to do more to tackle the protection gap.

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James Cowen

Simply put, the protection gap is the difference between the total economic losses resulting from various risks and the amount covered by insurance.

Since joining Insurance Times earlier this year, the issue of the protection gap has been highlighted following various natural catastrophe events.

For example, the insured losses from the earthquake that hit Turkey in February were forecast to exceed $1bn, while the disaster was expected to cause a $20bn hit for the country’s economy, according to Verisk.

And during a seminar entitled What’s coming for brokers during the Biba conference, Jane Kielty, head of commercial risk at Aon, felt there were still risks “where we haven’t created a solution as an industry fully, where there’s still quite big protection gaps”.

She highlighted cyber incidents as an example, claiming that ,of those businesses that suffered a financial impact in 2022, “only a very small amount of that impact” was insured.

“Are we doing what we should be doing as an industry?” she asked. “Probably not.” 

She added: “Do we need to do more? Yes.”

There are solutions being implemented to address the protection gap issue, such as parametric insurance. Its popularity is due to the usually straightforward nature of the contracts, which offer a guaranteed, direct payout after a qualifying event.

However, its clear that there is not going to be one simple solution to address the protection gap, especially as new risks continue to emerge.

While insurers can’t cover every exposure, the industry should work together to figure out where the biggest gaps are and the best way to reduce them.