With the Covid-19 pandemic putting a stop to industry conferences and networking events, innovation and relationship management is taking a hit

By insight editor Matt Scott

Insurance is a people business. Brokers need to speak to insurers, and insurers need to speak to brokers.

But Covid-19 has cancelled pretty much all of the opportunities for large scale face-to-face meetings for the (re)insurance market, as well as many of the more personal office visits and lunch meetings.

First it was BIBA that got cancelled, then it was Airmic and Baden Baden.

Next week, the great and the good of the (re)insurance world were supposed to descend on Monte Carlo for the annual reinsurance rendezvous.

Coronavirus, however, has put a stop to that conference too, and with it the panel sessions, debates and discussions that keep brokers abreast of industry trends and drive CPD.

It is the lack of networking, however, that could have the biggest impact stemming from these cancelled conferences.

Indeed, Max Carter, chief executive of specialist London market broker New Dawn Risk, recently warned how the lack of opportunities for informal conversations that form such an integral part of these conferences is putting innovation at risk.

Carter described these conversations as “an invaluable oil in the wheels of major reinsurance and capacity deals across the market”, and it is easy to see why.

These conferences not only give brokers the chance to come together, share ideas and innovate, it also allows them to get business done and sign off on those deals that have been dragging on without breakthrough.

And with a hardening market and the fallout from the business interruption scandal, coupled with the continued pressures from the Covid-19 pandemic, these negotiations are only going to get harder for brokers.

Insurers will be looking to tighten policy wordings, restrict coverage and push up rates, while also knowing that in many complex markets capacity is still hard to come by.

So brokers will be hoping that the new normal will soon be able to accommodate these large-scale gatherings so they can once again get back out into the market and do what they do best.

Until then, Zoom meetings and Microsoft Teams may have to plug the gap.