What do leading insurers think about the coming year?

Mike Williams

Biba

Major issues for 2003

If I have to choose only one, it is image. Driven by adverse coverage about flood cover, employers' liability (EL), professional indemnity (PI) and terrorism insurance costs (as well, no doubt, as other issues we have not yet begun to identify) we will encounter criticism in many parts of the media which only a sustained and effective response from all sectors can begin to counter successfully.

New Year resolutions

Work together to speak with one voice for the benefit of the whole insurance community.

Put our customers first instead of focusing solely on profits and satisfying shareholders.

Biba's main objectives

Finish the job it started in 2002 by persuading the government to make much-needed changes to the law governing EL, to reduce the cost to UK plc and to encourage rehabilitation and alternate dispute resolution.

Bob Beckett

Beckett Group

Major issues for 2003

Market capacity - will there be any real increase in capacity? I personally doubt it, as new capital is only replacing lost/declining capital due to solvency margins, players exiting and the general restructuring that is probably replacing the traditional insurance cycle we have lived with throughout our careers.

New Year resolutions

A public relations blitz - we are a disaster in portraying our worth to society. ABI/CII/Biba need to get together to improve our worth and standing. A joint effort should be put together to lobby authorities and the media.

Sustainable consistency - goodwill with the client/policyholder is evaporating due to massive inconsistency in cover and price.

Beckett Group's objectives

To maintain our existing track record and double our size in the next three years. We will have spent over £1m on IT this year to cope with existing and anticipated growth, organically and through acquisitions.

Grahame Chilton

Benfield Group

Major issues for 2003?

The Big Squeeze - re/insurers' balance sheets are under pressure from many sides:

  • Liability - WTC, prior-year reserve strengthening (especially for asbestos), new losses, such as European floods, recent marine hull losses

  • Asset side - depressed equity markets, low interest rates, increased credit risk from record bond defaults, downgraded reinsurers

  • Capital - insurers and life insurers trying to raise fresh capital from weak positions. New capital only interested in `clean' balance sheets of start-ups, less interest in `second-hand' reinsurers

    New Year's resolutions

    Remember last year's! Be there to make one next year!

    Benfield Group's objectives

    To continue to exceed the collective aspirations of our customers and team

    Stephen Catlin

    Catlin Underwriting Agencies

    Major issues for 2003

    The management of terrorist exposure worldwide, but particularly in the US.
    The management of reserving issues, particularly relating to asbestos and professional indemnity exposures.

    New Year resolutions

    To price correctly for exposure and understand downside risk to capital and to define policy conditions with clarity at inception of the policy period.

    Catlin's main objectives

    To continue to grow offering value products to policyholders with acceptable return to shareholders.

    Mike Hammond

    Marsh

    Major issues for 2003?

    Since 11September, the insurance market has been highly volatile, in terms of premium, capacity and coverage. To date, insurance buyers have been remarkably forbearing, but in 2003 they will have had time to plan their medium term strategies and will seek alternative strategies to the insurance market if they think that price, coverage and capacity volatility will continue.

    The major issue is to restore confidence among buyers.

    New Year resolutions

    We must all listen more closely to the concerns and the views of clients. Our clients have had to deal with sudden unexpected change. We need to provide greater certainty in the future. Second, we must not lose sight of the fact that insurance is now very much a boardroom issue and it is an opportunity for our industry to raise its profile with UK business in a positive fashion.

    Marsh's main objectives

    If there is one thing that I would like to see Marsh achieve in 2003, it is to use its understanding of our clients' businesses (and of their needs) to produce tailored, business specific, risk transfer products. We have invested extensively in understanding our clients' industries and businesses over the past decade. Now that insurers and reinsurers have returned to technical, business-specific, underwriting, this should hold out the promise of far more tailored blends of pricing, product and capacity.

    Tim Ablett

    Groupama

    Major issues for 2003

    We must make our industry one of the highest regarded professions, recognising the impact we have on the smooth running of the UK economy.

    New Year's resolution

    Groupama UK seeks to be an insurer of high integrity and reputation.

    Groupama's main objective

    To ensure that our customers recognise our aspirations and commitment, and together we develop profitable business relationships.

    Andrew Briscoe

    AA Insurance Services

    Major issues for 2003

    This has to be FSA regulation. Next year the FSA will publish their proposals for company authorisation and business rules. The industry needs to respond positively and effectively.

    New Year resolutions

    To make an effort to focus a lot more on customers and the experience we are giving them, and become less addicted to ratios.

    AA's main objective

    To serve our customers even better.

    Geoff Riddell

    Zurich

    Major issues for 2003

    Reconciling the conflicting demands of investors wanting an adequate return, societal pressures to provide wider coverage and award higher levels of compensation, and buyers' demands that cover stay affordable.

    New Year resolutions

    To communicate more effectively with all our stakeholders. To ensure that underwriting leads sales, rather than the other way round.

    Zurich's main objective

    To exceed all expectations.