Many insurtechs were founded on the basis of founders experiencing a personal frustration with insurance 

The insurtech sector has a “real role” to play in helping the insurance industry see things from the point of view of the customer.

This is according to former Lloyd’s of London chief executive Dame Inga Beale, who spoke during the first keynote on day one (1 March 2023) of Insurtech Insights Europe at the London Intercontinental hotel.

Beale explained: “[Insurtech] is actually delivering better to customers which is great – I would still recommend putting the customer first, [because] hardly any insurance players put out customer positive products.”

She noted that the insurance industry tends to look at customers from its own point of view, usually via data markers such as age, for example.

“Seldom do we look at [insurance] from a customer’s point of view,” she added.

“[Insurtechs] have a real role to play in [the] bigger broadcast message.”

Shakeup needed

Insurtech firms’ role in broadcasting customer frustrations is well placed because many insurtechs were founded on the premise of a personal frustration with insurance that founders set out to remedy.

“A lot of startup ideas [happened] because someone experienced something or got an idea. But it’s all about something that’s not working very well, customer service [needs] to be good,” Beale added.

For Beale, insurance is in need of “a bit of a shakeup”.

She said: “I believe insurtechs are really being noticed now – I remember a few years ago and many, many chief executives, whether they were banks or insurance companies, were talking about this new tech stuff.

“The insurtech sector has really grown up.”

Beale was chief executive of Lloyd’s between January 2014 and December 2018. She currently holds positions on various boards including as an independent non-executive director at both Crawford and Company and Willis Towers Watson. 

Old fashioned

Beale also noted that while commercial insurance brokers operated under an “old-fashioned and structured way of doing business”, customers were crying out for new systems.

“We’re not really responding,” she said.

“[But] we have to do this together, whether you are a service provider, broker, intermediary or carrier – it has got to be done together.”

Beale recalled that when she still in the world of underwriting, supply chain insurance was introduced but nobody bought it. As an example of the need for customers being listened to, she said the reason for this was that customers had not been consulted first about the product.