The Hiscox UK chief executive speaks to Insurance Times about his journey into the role and his plans for the insurer
Jon Dye has now settled into his new role as chief executive of Hiscox UK, having joined at the back end of last year in September 2022.
In the year and three months since his arrival, the specialist insurer has enacted a series of programmes designed to improve its service to broker partners and end consumers – and Dye says there are plenty more on the way.
For example, in March, Hiscox launched a new broker extranet that was intended to support seamless integration into brokers’ back-office software.
Also in March, the firm announced its underwriting academy, with the aim of nurturing new talent and getting underwriters up to speed quickly so that they can serve brokers.
Speaking to Insurance Times, Dye explains that all of Hiscox’s plans for growth in the future envision “brokers as absolutely front and centre”.
He says: ”All of the work we’ve done we’ve done on our strategy over the last year or so has confirmed that we’re not going to turn ourselves into anything different – we are doubling down on things that we already know we’re already good at, because that’s where brokers value what we bring.”
Prior to joining Hiscox back in 2022, Dye’s most recent role was as chief executive of Allianz UK – a position he held for eight years and one in which he oversaw the two significant acquisitions of LV= and Legal and General.
However, he initially joined Allianz as claims director from Chubb in 2003, taking the path less traveled from a claims function to eventually leading the c-suite.
He says this experience and the lessons he had to learn to progress have provided him with a useful view on how to manage organisations and the people that make them up.
A couple of years into his role as claims director, then Allianz UK chief executive Andrew Torrance, who was keen on succession planning, told Dye that he was unlikely to become chief executive himself if he didn’t gain experience outside of claims, with Dye being promoted the the general manager for the insurer’s retail business in November 2007.
”When you take over a business and it has distribution, underwriting and a whole bunch of things that you’ve never been responsible for before, you realise that the critical thing is that you have good people in the team who can make that happen for you,” he explains.
This is a learning that he has brought with him into Hiscox, where Dye says he is keen to emphasise the importance of not just nurturing new talent, but effectively retaining experienced staff and planning for succession.
”It’s not just a question of getting [staff] in the door, when you get them in the door you have to keep them,” he says.
”I’m a big advocate of finding ways to stretch people’s experience and provide a balance – you need to find a way to involve your people in things that will help them, help you and help your business.
”Succession planning is an active process at Hiscox, so we think about where the next opportunity is for someone to learn, grow and round themselves out – of course it’s incumbent on the individual to deliver in their current role, but it’s also incumbent on an organisation to actively manage the whole talent process.”
Headroom for growth
It is not just his experience and skill managing the people within an organisation that Dye has brought to Hiscox, however.
Indeed, he tells Insurance Times that he was attracted to the role and organisation because it aligned with his own philosophies and values, but also because the role presented an opportunity to both continue learning and to embark “on a growth journey”.
He explains: ”For me, the really exciting part of being in business is you start somewhere and then, five years later, you’re over here and can look back and see the growth, while hopefully having had fun along the way.
”I could see that where the Hiscox UK business was positioned was ripe for another growth journey and what I’ve been doing over the last 15 months is setting out the strategy and building the foundations that we need to make that real.”
While Hiscox is currently exploring lines of business in which it can expand, Dye says these product innovations would occur in areas adjacent to those in which the specialty insurer is already strong.
”You won’t see us drifting down into mainstream household policies, which is not our place or our thing,” he says.
“We will focus on the things that we really know and that we really understand and if we do that well, then we know there is no issue with headroom in the market – there’s plenty to go at.”
Dye’s commitment that Hiscox will lean into and improve in the areas it is strongest is a sound strategy for a business with as much brand recognition as the insurer, but the insurer is not resting on its laurels.
Since joining the firm, Dye says that he met and spoken to over 450 of the broker partners that Hiscox works with to develop relationships and understand what they are looking for when interacting with the insurer.
Hiscox also runs surveys with its broker partners to understand what they expect.
Dye says: ”The empirical evidence you get from those surveys is important, but the anecdotal stuff that you get from having a relationship with somebody is just as important – this industry actually still operates very much through personal relationships and that’s not a problem, it’s a good thing.”
As a result of trying to make interacting with Hiscox easier and more effective for brokers, Dye has overseen a number of measures that he hopes will improve the overall relationships.
“We’re continuing to evolve our digital journey, we want to strengthen our regional operations and we’re doubling down on our schemes business, while continuing to grow our high net worth (HNW) proposition,” he says.
In the Summer, Hiscox reorganised its regional operations into four regions – the North, the Midlands and East Anglia, London and the South – that Dye says are now “ripe for future growth” as brokers will be able to access a uniform offering from anywhere in the country supported by the requisite scale.
The broker schemes business – accouning for around 25% of Hiscox’s broker revenues – remains ringfenced in a central location, but has access to each of these regions to provide specialist support.
Dye explains: “Schemes is very well placed to grow in the immediate future and we have a fantastic pipeline of opportunities that we’re keen to add to whenever we can.”
However, he adds: ”I think [schemes] will probably remain at around the same proportion [of revenues for Hiscox] because the open market business that we’re trading through the regional operations is also set up for future growth.”
In terms of digital development, Dye is keen to emphasise that the new Hiscox offering has been crafted in collaboration with brokers.
”We don’t want to make any assumptions about what brokers want or need, so the best way to find out is to ask them,” he says.
“The best way to find out what brokers want is to ask them – we’re all about making it better, not making it worse.
Dye concludes: ”What we’re there to do is to help the brokers help their own clients, so all of the propositions that we’re offering to them need to be offering up good solutions for the customers.”
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