Steve Langan, managing director UK retail, Hiscox

Langan predicted: "By 2012, I would contend that customers will be masters of their own universe."

He contended that "control is at the heart of this trend." Crucially, "customers have access to information at their fingertips of the sort that they previously had to rely on and trust experts to provide."

Langan added: "Technology will be the enabler, and the winners will be those insurance companies that deliver insight-led innovation on the back of it."

He cited e-commerce innovators such as Amazon, Apple and eBay as prime examples of companies that have created the right environment for today's consumers.

Langan said: "The internet has turned marketing on its head - it's no longer about selling but about creating an environment in which prospective customers will choose to buy."

He lauded Norwich Union's Pay As You Drive scheme as a welcome initiative, but cautioned: "We are still a long way behind the curve compared to other industries in recognising the customer's desire to be masters of their own universe."