As 2023 draws to a close, eight industry leaders look back on the past year and share resolutions for 2024
Graeme Trudgill, chief executive, Biba
There have been a number of thorny issues this year that we’ve had to work through to find the best outcomes for brokers.
So, inspired by Dale Carnegie’s approach of How to win friends and influence people, we found that active listening has been the most successful in not only achieving what’s best for brokers, but for everyone involved.
Take the threat of a potential ban on commission in relation to multioccupancy buildings and the FCA’s issues about brokers demonstrating fair value. The Biba team listened and adopted a collaborative approach to help lessen the financial burden on leaseholders living in buildings that have material fire safety issues.
This led to the government and members agreeing to a broker pledge to support leaseholders and with the FCA we introduced a more practical approach to assessing fair value. This manifested itself as our recently delivered new fair value assessment framework. So a positive outcome for all has been achieved.
Active listening and understanding other people’s views has been key. We’ll continue this path by listening to our members and taking their issues forward in our 2024 Manifesto via a collaborative approach, demonstrating that we are an industry that listens and works constructively to solve problems.
Graham Gibson, chief claims officer, Allianz Insurance
During another challenging year for the industry, adaptability has been key, as well as working closely together with our brokers to tackle rising costs of claims and reduce the impact on our customers.
It goes without saying that inflationary pressures have continued to cause really tough market conditions and although there has been a recent “easing” we are certainly not back to normal.
For claims, these factors have led to longer key-to-key times and increasing credit hire fees. However, there are several things that can positively impact the costs of repairs and enhance the overall claims experience.
We’ve been working with brokers to ensure that we are making it easy for them to report claims directly and as early as possible, as well as providing third party contact details, so that we can help mitigate any third party claims.
We’re really encouraging the use of our approved repairer network, where we can ensure greater control of the quality, costs and the overall customer experience. Where possible, we’re automatically using green parts in repairs – it’s often the case that these are more readily available, which means some repairs can be completed faster.
2024 will no doubt bring some surprises and challenges of its own, but we’ll be looking to work closely with our broker partners to ensure we can tackle them together for the customer’s benefit.
Jacqueline Sinclair, compliance director, CFC
For me, 2023 has been a year when the industry has recognised that the view of compliance as a rigid operation designed to slow firms down is outmoded.
Rather, having a compliance and risk function that is skilled and keyed into the external environment, as well as fluent in emerging risk and technology areas, able to respond with agility to the rapid pace of regulatory change is absolutely vital to business success.
We’re seeing an unprecedented rate of regulatory change across all different categories of regulatory risk.
Last year, for example, the industry had to adapt to the rapid imposition of sanctions against Russia resulting from the conflict in Ukraine, rolling out processes and procedures not just to comply with new regulations, but support customers.
Fast forward to today and that conflict is now taking a backseat to the one in Gaza, with compliance and risk functions having to pivot again to focus on this as an emerging risk area.
Likewise, the development of thinking around generative AI has tested compliance and risks functions, which have had to develop proportionate and flexible frameworks to manage this emerging risk while the regulation is struggling to keep pace.
Whether you’re a firm like CFC operating globally or a UK-based broker, it’s critical to have a compliance team who are able to understand and respond to all this regulatory change quickly and effectively – as I’m willing to bet we’re going to see more change in 2024.
Marco Distefano, managing director, Axa Retail
This year has been particularly challenging for the industry. A combination of inflationary pressure, supply chain challenges, adverse weather conditions and increases in the price of labour and building materials are all having an impact across all aspects of the sector.
This economic environment has meant insurers and brokers have needed to continually adapt to meet the evolving needs of our customers.
To add to this, implementing Consumer Duty has required further focus on securing the best customer outcomes and I believe this will have a positive effect on the market.
Many of the standards set by the Consumer Duty were already core elements of our strategic approach and we have worked hard to ensure our teams are able to meet or surpass them going forward.
Embedding data and analytics across our business is key to making customer journeys frictionless, convenient and easy to navigate. This is something our customers expect and we know that getting it right is crucial to securing their loyalty.
This year, we launched our digital-only brand Moja on all price comparison sites.
To ensure we can build on this success and accelerate the delivery of innovative customer propositions, we plan to continue leveraging flexible and agile technology platforms, learn from innovative players in other sectors and, most importantly, keep our customers at the heart of everything we do.
Stephen Kennedy, director, Pearson Ham
The most important lesson for me in 2023 was the value of resilience and being able to adapt in the face of regulatory, geopolitical and economic changes.
It has clearly been a difficult couple of years in UK general insurance. Long-term impacts of Covid, general insurance pricing practices, war in Ukraine, the cost-of-living crisis and Consumer Duty regulations have presented a series of unprecedented challenges.
Consequential impacts on parts availability, price of materials and labour shortages have driven the cost of claims in motor and home insurance sky high. Extreme weather events have further exacerbated these issues.
Spiralling costs have resulted in large losses being reported and some insurers pulling out of the entire markets or specific segments, such as electric vehicles. Resilience has been key for those that remain and premiums have had to increase significantly to cover costs.
There is some light at the end of the tunnel as we head into 2024.
Premium inflation has alleviated some of the pressure on profitability and inflation rates are steadying. However, competition is likely to intensify next year and insurers will yet again have to demonstrate adaptability and resilience to succeed.
Luci Bowers, commercial lines strategy implementation director, RSA Insurance
Without doubt, the biggest lesson we learnt in 2023, was that above all else, listening to our brokers voice is the most important thing we can do.
This isn’t new news – we’ve always welcomed broker feedback and used it to help shape our plans, but this year we saw a real step change in how we do it and what we do with the outputs.
At the start of the year, we set our ambition to be number one for broker experience in the commercial insurance market and recognised that we had a journey to go on to achieve that.
Throughout the year, we made loads of changes and really shifted our mindset – we took 800 colleagues through ‘Connecting with Brokers’ training, recruited more broker facing roles, launched a new insight strategy, made a host of changes that our brokers suggested and set some clear service targets that we know will make a big difference.
Next year, we’ll be pushing even harder with further programmes centred around broker feedback and making the changes they are asking for.
We’ll also be setting up a broker community so we can road test ideas and keep right up to date on what our brokers need from us.
We know that expectations will continually change and we want to be proactive in identifying and finding solutions for that.
Troy Stevens, chief executive, Rhino Trade Insurance
2023 was a positive year for growth at Rhino Trade Insurance and I feel that many important lessons were learned along the way.
Most importantly, and one lesson that will inform our development for 2024, is the use of customer data in informing future decisions.
Insurance providers should always aim to improve and instead of assuming that we know what is best for our customers, who better to lead us in the right direction than the customer themselves?
By properly recording, analysing and then using customer data, we have made effective improvements to our delivery platforms and communication methods, led by customer habits that we otherwise would not have identified.
In 2024, we aim to take this data led approach forward and use it to tailor our business to be completely customer driven.
We feel that this will only improve our aim to make all self-employed tradesmen and women compliant and ensure that our customer base is aware of the risks they face by not having the right insurance in place.
I feel that insurance is changing for the better and if brokers allow customers to help inform how insurance is marketed and delivered, it will only improve our industry’s reputation.
Andy Bord, chief executive, Flood Re
A key learning this year has to be the importance of education when it comes to driving and delivering on radical and necessary change.
Our ground-breaking Build Back Better scheme, designed to reduce the cost and impact of future floods by including property resilience measures as part of flood repairs, will shortly secure the commitment of 100% of the residential property insurance market.
These good intentions now need to be translated into action with the practical adoption of resilience measures during flood repairs, a need perfectly highlighted by the damage and disruption to people’s lives caused by the recent Storm Babet.
To drive this forward, we need to continue spreading the word about BBB and boost understanding of how the scheme works amongst insurers, brokers, loss adjusters and householders.
We can then make sure that 2024 will be about delivering tangible benefits to householders and insurers and improving the flood resilience of the UK’s housing stock for the benefit of all.
She was selected for the Women in Journalism Senior Mentoring Scheme in 2019 and, in 2022, went on to win the Highly Commended Award in the Most Promising Newcomer category at the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) Journalist and Media Awards.
At BIBA’s 2023 awards, she was shortlisted for the Best Investigative Journalism category.View full Profile