Industry must improve standard of recruits, Torrance says

Allianz Cornhill managing director Andrew Torrance told delegates that the skills shortage in the industry needed addressing.

He said: "There is a worry over the number of people who can actually write risks properly."

He added that current "mis-rating" in the market was caused by badly trained underwriters.

This was driving the disproportionate rate rises over recent years.

"We need to be more serious about investment in our people," he said.

He asked delegates: "Are we really getting the correct calibre of people? Have we also lost out on the growth in tertiary education by failing to attract the best minds to our industry?"

Torrance asked delegates to pursue a rigorous marketing drive to make the industry more attractive.

"The challenge is to prevent the industry losing any more money through bad underwriting."

Torrance also called on the industry to improve current combined ratios.

"For too many years insurers have not been fully aware of the growing equity markets," he said.

He suggested this was addressed by utilising broker expertise.

"We are now in an environment where combined ratios need to be balanced.

"Rates are on the increase, but only by around 50% on average.

"These rate rises are reasonable if you consider the amount of money we have lost on employers' liability (EL) since 1995.

"We need these rate rises to cover our increasing exposures."