Acting editor Yiannis Kotoulas discusses the increased attention on competitiveness within the insurance industry
It seems that everyone I met last month was talking about competition, competing and competitiveness.
Insurance Times does keep its finger on the pulse of the industry’s tos and fros – or at least we try to – so it’s worth examining why there has been such a spike in talk of competition recently.
A considerable amount of it, to be fair, has come from the run up to the publication of our Top 50 Insurers 2023 report, which subscribers can access here.
The annual report ranks the UK’s 50 largest insurers by gross written premium, but also includes information on the management of the firms, as well as some choice financial metrics for you to sink your teeth into.
What is clear from the report is that the UK general insurance market remains competitive, with lots of healthy jostling for position between the country’s insurers.
But while this is encouraging to observe, it’s nothing new – there will always be competition in a sector as dynamic as insurance. So what has prompted the extraordinary spike in talk of competing?
Stuart Reid offers some insight here – you can read his thoughts here but, essentially, much of the broker market is concerned about recent FCA attention on the commission model of remuneration.
Were commissions taken by brokers in the arrangement of insurance to become public record, as the FCA has suggested may happen, it would certainly lead to more competition in the sector.
Whether or not this would be a good thing is another question entirely – indeed, Reid believes it could even presage “a race to the bottom” as brokers would aim to compete on price, rather than on providing excellent service to customers.
Competitiveness, or rather the dialling back of it, also reared its head as a topic of discussion during this month’s Fraud Charter event.
Counter-fraud is a sector that demands co-operation from companies and organisations that are ostensibly competing with each other for cost savings and the Fraud Charter event is testament to that collaboration.
Competition is obviously healthy, but it strays into the unhealthy when organisations climb over each other and the end-customers to eke out advantages. Thankfully, attendees to the charter agreed that it was co-operation between themselves that would continue to best tackle fraudsters and keep the public safe.
Clearly, there has been something in the air over the past month. It has prompted some reflection on the nature of competition and led me to the thought that, while our industry absolutely benefits from it, it is not necessarily competing with each other that is most productive.
What is perhaps more productive is competition against the past – a belief that we can all continue to improve service, learn from mistakes and ultimately aim upwards.
But with that said, we do all like winning, don’t we? And can we afford to not compete?
With a particular focus on regulation, geopolitical and systemic risks and conflict, he has covered the insurance implications of the Ukraine war, riots in France and the commissions scandal for multioccupancy buildings insurance.View full Profile