I concur with John Warran's assessment of the state of product development in our industry (10 July, Insurance Times) and how it can often ignore the customer in favour of "catch-all" initiatives.

I concur with John Warran's assessment of the state of product development in our industry (10 July, Insurance Times) and how it can often ignore the customer in favour of "catch-all" initiatives.

As the UK's largest insurer Norwich Union (NU) takes seriously the need to lead the industry on innovation as well issues.

Newer market entrants such as Tesco have harnessed the power and trust of their brand to diversify into insurance. So-called traditional insurers should be looking to emulate the success of this approach to compete. Those who continue to operate on a product-centric basis will inevitably be left behind.

NU has more recently been one among the major market players to invest in product innovation. Its strategy has yielded some innovative products that put the customer, literally, in the driving seat.

Pay As You Drive, which will allow it to calculate personal motor premiums based on actual car usage, has been made possible only by putting funds into the latest technology. Currently being piloted with volunteer motorists, this promises more accurate motor insurance premiums, giving the customer greater control.

And Physiofast is a motor policy extension giving drivers and passengers quick access to physiotherapy following an accident. Rather than leaving the injured parties to suffer while potentially waiting many weeks for NHS treatment, Physiofast gives the policyholder access to professional help within days.

Innovation is all well and good, but it must be predicated on customer centricity. It involves taking some risks and that is what the industry should be doing. If we don't there are others outside the industry equally capable of providing insurance products who will.

And it's not only the "energetic newcomers" we should be looking to for this. Being an established player means that NU is not only capable of staying the distance, but also of sudden bursts of speed.

Bridget McIntyre
Sales and marketing director
Norwich Union Insurance

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