Big M&A deals, proposed government action against soft tissue injuries and cyber are among the big topics for broker bosses as they review the year and look forward to the big issues in 2016

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Aston Scott executive chairman Peter Blanc

Q.What was your insurance highlight of 2015?

Without any shadow of a doubt it has to be completing the management buy-out of Aston Scott in May 2015; the start of a new era for me and the 235 staff at Aston Scott.

Peter Blanc carousel

Q.What was the most surprising event of the year?

The Zurich bid for RSA falling over.

Q.And the most predictable?

That M&A is dominating the headlines once again.

Q.What will the big market issues be in 2016?

Cyber is really capturing the headlines and quite rightly so – as an industry I think we are just waking up to the opportunities and threats that this represents. I am concerned by the treatment of cyber as a cheap ‘add-on’ and believe that we need to create a genuinely valuable proposition to protect companies against as many cyber and data related risks as possible. Reputationally the industry needs to get this right and provide genuine value for money. M&A will continue to be widely reported both at insurer level and broker level. In the broker space there is undoubtedly a new wave of M&A taking shape but hopefully, given the scars being carried by many people in the industry, it will be a more sensible wave this time round.

Q.Do you think rates will harden or soften in 2016?

There is absolutely no sign of rates hardening any time soon. Brokers now have to really add value and make sure that they are maximising protection for clients in this soft environment.

Q.What’s your priority for 2016?

To position Aston Scott really well for our growth trajectory both through stepping up our organic activity and also landing one or two attractive acquisitions!

 

Towergate Underwriting chief executive Adrian Brown

Adrian Brown

Q.What was your insurance highlight of 2015?

I missed 7 months! Being back at the Insurance Times awards seeing so many friends was a highlight for me – and seeing Derek Coles on stage with David Walliams!

Q.What was the most surprising event of the year?

The Government finally taking action on soft tissue injuries– we’ve been talking about that for ages.

Q.And the most predictable?

Marsh buying a mid-market broker.

Q.What will the big market issues be in 2016?

Maybe not in 2016, but the continued move of alternative capacity into traditional markets will put the models of traditional insurers under pressure.

Q.Do you think rates will harden or soften in 2016?

 I am going to be planning for a hard market – we have to work harder at competing in service, product AND price, not just price alone.

Q.What’s your priority for 2016?

Helping to make Towergate a great place to work for employees and evolving our MGA so that brokers really value us for being agile, local experts, given them real alternatives.

 

Biba chief executive Steve White

Steve White, Biba

 

Q.What was your insurance highlight of 2015?

Thinking about this year’s highlights, obviously, it is hard to see past Arsenal winning the FA cup! – But seriously, 2015 was an incredibly busy year for Biba. It was a great accolade to hear industry leaders describe our annual conference, which has long been regarded as the go to place for networking , as the place to go to trade. We need to build on that in Manchester in 2016. We also campaigned hard on the issue of late claims payments and to see this in the Enterprise Bill was excellent news for our members and their customers.

Q.What was the most surprising event of the year?

I think most people in the industry were astounded when, in the Summer budget, the Chancellor dramatically increased the rate of IPT by 58%. This made a mockery of the efforts the industry has made over the last few years, at the behest of Government, to reduce the cost of motor insurance, and is, in effect, a tax on protection.

Q.And the most predictable? ?

Dare I say even more thematic reviews and policy papers form the FCA.

Q.What will the big market issues be in 2016?

The Insurance Act is the biggest change in insurance law since the Marine Insurance Act 1906 and its implementation during 2016 will result in changes throughout the industry in terms of procedures documents and in some respects to duties and obligations. Recognising the impact on the broking sector we have already arranged technical briefing sessions on the Act for our members.

Q.Do you think rates will harden or soften in 2016?

The Biba-Acturis index which tracks £5m of written premiums has been showing some slight increases in motor and commercial property premiums, but what actually happens to rates in 2016 remains to be seen. On the whole our members are not responsible for setting prices but of course are well placed to find appropriate markets for any type of risk.

Q.What’s your priority for 2016?

We will continue to work for the benefit of our member on issues that affect them and their customers. Ensuring fair access to insurance and fair regulation will be high on our agenda.

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