NIBA Conference Insurance Industry Panel

A panel of leading industry executives discussed the future and the present challenges facing the insurance industry on Monday at the NIBA Convention.

The panel was led by NIBA Director Glenn Schultz (AIMS) and included Zurich CCO Hilary Bates, IAG EGM Ben Bessell, QBE EGM Jason Clarke, President BHSI Chris Colahan, CGM Allianz David Hosking and EGM Suncorp Darren O’Connell.

The panel started with the question of ‘who owns the client?’ There was broad agreement with David Hosking’s comment: “The client owns the client. If brokers provide true advice and advocacy, the client will appreciate that.”

There was a wide range of topics covered such as the present economic climate, costs, millennials, technology and platforms and their impact on the roles of brokers. Despite these market threats, there was strong agreement on the future role of brokers.

Ben Bessell pointed out that internationally, insurer profits were still mainly in distribution. It was seen that while platforms were helping reduce process repetition, they offered a more commoditised approach. Brokers provided a more tailored and personal approach to their costs and premiums.

Darren O’Connell believed that while customers are better informed than ever before, “Brokers will always have a critical role, and customers will always have a need for service.”

At claim time, Hilary Bates explained that the broker is ”important to help represent the client and get info across. There’s also the agility question as many customers will want to respond themselves. We need to be able to do both”. Bates added that following a catastrophe event, “people are looking for a caring experience”.

Was there a fear of disruptors? As Chris Colahan explained, they would have to find a way to offer a lower priced product, and “the industry needs to reduce expenses, build up data and improve our value and offer” as the best ways to protect it.

The final question was brought near unanimous response: What would be the one thing you would change about the industry? The words may have varied but the sentiment was the same: more trust from the public, more pride and confidence in what the industry does, changing that perception that is out there. It was best summed up by Hilary Bates, who was passionate about careers in Claims, as she felt it was rewarding “helping people in times of need”. And it seems the industry wants to be recognised for that.