We asked senior insurance industry figures for their aims and hopes for the New Year

Norwich Union
Norwich Union's General Insurance operations have had a fantastic and exciting 2005.

The New Year will see us focus on some of the same issues as 2005 - from our disciplined approach to underwriting and maintaining market discipline, to pushing for further reform of the UK's compensation culture.

We will also be looking at e-enablement, and how we can harness technology to further improve sales, customer service, claims handling and how and where our employees work.

My hopes for the industry are to build a reputation centred around customer service, where customers value the product they purchase.

Likewise, regulation is an opportunity to truly be about the customer - and not gold-plating.

On a personal note, I look forward to seeing Norwich City rally in the second half of the season - it's not too late!

Mark Hodges
Managing director
Norwich Union General Insurance

Marsh
In 2006 I would like to see the broking industry fully embrace a client-focused approach, built round the fundamentals of transparency, efficiency and value.

Once we have achieved this, transparency and regulation will have become habitual and cease to be the issues they are today.

Another key issue for 2006 is that of contract certainty.

This should be regarded as a core competency by the market and is the key to higher value relationships with clients and improved reputation and standing for the industry.

Firms that do not recognise this will fail to realise the advantages and opportunities of the regulated industry.

At Marsh, we are currently putting our processes, systems and staff training in place to ensure that contract certainty is achieved for our clients in 2006.

Toby Foster
Chief executive
Marsh UK Retail

Fortis
My greatest wish for 2006 is that as an industry we collaborate much more closely.

The benefits would be outstanding - both to ourselves and our customers: sharing information would have a significant impact on the eradication of fraudulent activity.

My other wishes are for us to:

  • Continue with product developments, focusing on quality as well as price, in order that customers are better rewarded and satisfied
  • Consistently raise awareness and educate the general public on the benefits of buying quality insurance products, and so helping to improve the industry's image
  • Have a strong commitment to maintaining and raising customer service levels. Every excellent customer experience plays a part in building a solid reputation for the industry as a whole
  • Have greater investment in training and the development of standardised qualifications recognised across the industry.
  • Fortis Insurance believes that collaboration is vital if the UK insurance industry is to maintain and build on its position as a global leader. However, one thing that we have no control over is the weather, so here's hoping for a calm and mild 2006!

    Barry Smith
    Chief executive
    Fortis Insurance

    Biba

  • A significant improvement in the confidence and reputation of our industry and for the industry to attract weapons-grade talent
  • The FSA effectiveness review to recognise better regulation, not more regulation
  • Insurers moving towards classifying customers rather than products in order to help intermediaries comply with ICOB rules
  • The FSA to do a U-turn on CP05/14 proposals to avoid unnecessary consumer confusion
  • The Little Bill to be eaten by the Big Blue Mouse, which is bitten by the Bulldog, which is subsequently run over by an uninsured red phone on wheels and then seized by the MIB and crushed!
  • More brokers to fulfil demand for payment protection insurance
  • The removal of all uninsured drivers from our roads
  • The use of a broker/intermediary to be compulsory
  • A reversal of the 'compensation culture' trend
  • Scotland to win the Rugby Union Grand Slam.
  • Eric Galbraith
    Chief executive, Biba

    Lloyds TSB
    In 2006 I wish the insurance industry a prosperous, healthy and happy year.

    But our industry will only enjoy prosperity if companies continue with good capital disciplines and prices aimed at yielding a positive return on economic capital.

    There are some clear signals coming from the motor and commercial markets that discipline is being lost in a dash for growth at the expense of profits. A healthier industry would serve its customers with far greater reliability.

    Although there is much in our industry to be proud of, we cannot be happy with the picture of our service painted by the residents of Carlisle and articulated by communities reunited.

    Nearly a year on from the floods, hundreds of people are still in temporary accommodation, and the quality of work done by many contractors is entirely unacceptable.

    Happiness, of course, can be difficult to find. But for me it will come when Chelsea

    FC win both the Premiership and the Champions League.

    Phil Loney
    Managing director
    Lloyds TSB Insurance

    Zurich
    My job is to make Zurich the leading insurer in our chosen markets.

    But in general, my wishes for the industry revolve around two main themes: putting the customer at the centre of everything we do and promoting market stability.

    As the market develops and gets more competitive, we as individual insurers need to keep devising innovative ideas to make life easier for our customers and keep the cost of claims down. This has led to many of us going the extra mile and the more innovative we are, the better it is for all concerned.

    Better for customers, who can cherry-pick the product, most suitable to their individual needs, for insurers, who can improve the range of their offering and reduce the number of potential claims, and for society, which can become a safer place.

    Insurers don't operate in a vacuum, but in a complex environment with many variables such as movements in rates, evolving regulatory requirements and increasing competition from other industries, for instance supermarkets, airlines and car dealers.

    Our market will continue to be impacted by these issues in 2006, but if we are to delight our customers, it is not enough to sell great products. We need to deliver on the basic promise we make whenever we sell a policy, which is that we will be here to pay claims in the future.

    As individual companies and as an industry we must seek to influence market conditions as much as possible in order to fulfil our promise. It is my belief that this can only be achieved if all insurers are committed to stabilising premiums and pricing risks accurately, which will build a firm foundation on which to build compelling customer propositions.

    Ian Stuart
    Chief executive

    Zurich
    Ken Davey, managing director, FM Global

  • Risk management to be seen as a strategic tool. I would like to see more company directors take it into account when making strategic decisions such as where to locate a new facility and consider the reputational risk of a disruption to their supply chain. How many have looked at a map which shows natural hazard risks before taking a decision on location? How many realise that outsourcing the process does not outsource the risk?
  • Contract certainty to mean exactly that. Insurers, brokers and clients need to work closely to deliver contract certainty at the outset of a relationship. The aim should be to deliver exactly that, contract certainty, not simply doing the bare minimum to meet the regulator's needs.
  • Risk modelling to reflect reality. We would like to see a better understanding that risk modelling is only as good as the data you put in. Gathering location-specific information is the only way to ensure risk models reflect reality.
  • My final wish is that airlines never, ever allow the use of mobile phones during a flight. It is the last haven from the dreaded ringtones and shouted conversations!
  • Andrew Torrance, chief executive, Allianz Cornhill
    First, a year which is mercifully free of the kind of natural catastrophes which blighted 2005 and the final days of 2004.

    Second, a recognition in the insurance market that rising costs, be they due to reinsurance premiums or claims inflation, need to be reflected in rising premiums. The former should lift property premiums and the latter, the motor and casualty classes.

    From a company perspective, 2005 was an outstanding year in which we celebrated our centenary and the winning of two prestigious industry awards.

    2006 will need to be exceptional to eclipse these achievements and I would wish for that bit of luck which mixed with skill and hard work forms a hard combination to beat.

    2006 is a World Cup year and after 40 years, a personal wish for England to fulfil their potential at last in a major tournament and win the trophy. Oh, and Liverpool repeating their Champions League-winning feat of 2005.