Insurance Times’ latest webinar captures the thoughts of three senior leaders in the industry

The world the insurance industry operates in today is “sadly becoming a more dangerous and unstable place”.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom as this challenge brings opportunity.

That was according to Huw Evans, insurance partner at KPMG, who spoke as part of Insurance DataLabs recent webinar entitled Top 50 Insurers: Underwriting under the microscope, hosted on 17 October 2023 in partnership with Insurance Times.

Evans was joined by Axa Retail interim chief executive Anna Fleming and Insurance DataLab cofounder Matt Scott. The session was chaired by Insurance Times’ acting editor Yiannis Kotoulas.

For Evans, “speed, tackling uninsurability” and tapping further into cyber cover was where he hoped the insurance industry “can make a difference going forward”.

He explained that the use of omnichannel communication with customers was key, as it is paramount the industry “doesn’t go down a route where the firm decides that [customers] can only deal with us in one way”, especially at a time when digital adoption is increasing.

“It’s really important that, at the same time as we are making systems work more effectively [and] more efficiently, we bear in mind that we’ve got to give the customer the final agency about how they engage with us as the insurer on what they want,” he said.

“Sometimes the customer will want to ring up and sometimes the query the customer has won’t easily lend itself to an email exchange and sometimes, with the claims situation, people just want certainty very quickly.”

In terms of insurability, Evans highlighted that “crude data” has previously hampered product innovation in areas where cover was lacking, however, this is being “improved” using innovations such as geospatial technology, for example.

“We’ve always been good in the industry at modelling river flooding [but] we’ve been very bad at modelling potential value at risk from surface water flooding,” he said.

And finally, “cyber insurance is a product that we should expect to grow and where we can play a really valuable and important service to society and the economies of our customers in hopefully helping tackle [the] protection gap”, he added.

Pricing not what ‘it used to be’

Fleming echoed Evans’ sentiments and said “there’s lots of opportunities to service customers better and manage the risks that are sadly growing”, such as climate change.

“We are facing into climate change, it is real so we are facing into much bigger risks, particularly in relation to flooding and extreme weather events,” she said.

Fleming suggested that firms consider “how do we support businesses” in a way that utilises the entire insurance firm, rather than just paying claims. For Axa, that means making use of its commercial portfolio and health business, for example.

Showing “we’ve got your back” should the worst happen is “really important”, she said.

Scott, meanwhile, pointed to opportunities that currently exist in the regulation space at a time when the cost of insurance cover is “not as important as it used to be”, especially following the price walking reforms that came into effect on 1 January 2022.

He highlighted that while customers want certainty, they also want their “expectations managed correctly, [as customers] are not always going to get the service that they want just because it might not be possible”.

Considering that, Scott highlighted current supply chain challenges. He explained that where there were delays in the repair network, a customer’s car “is not going to be repaired tomorrow” and “could be off the road for weeks”.

However, he said: “You can still deliver a good customer outcome even though it’s delayed, as long as you manage those expectations. By getting that out in the market it can help rebuild trust in the industry – for the companies that get it righ,t it’s a real opportunity to grow profitably as well.”