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Brokers And Technology: Not A Zero-Sum Game

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Debbie George, General Manager Broker Division, Infiniti Insurance Limited

The unrelenting pace and scale of technology-led innovation and disruption will continue forcing businesses to reinvent the way they operate and engage with customers.

The insurance industry stands at the forefront of this sweeping wave of transformation, with intermediaries caught at the nexus of industry reform and digital disruption. While the sector faces formidable challenges, role players throughout the value chain can utilise emerging opportunities for growth and renewal.

The non-life insurance industry model is evolving rapidly as it’s confronted with the immediate, direct impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting socio-economic fallout, all while navigating the current and long-term impact of climate change calamities. Short-term insurance has shown resilience in its approach in meeting these unprecedented demands.

McKinsey & Company, in its research paper Insurance – Transforming risk and compliance, talks about the industry’s relevance and resilience through the significant transformation currently gaining momentum. Insurers must reinvent themselves, says McKinsey, highlighting the need to tap into new sources of growth.

To capture the essence of the evolution, the McKinsey paper predicts that the risk and compliance functions will continue to assist insurance companies mitigate risk while adding an extra dimension to support growth by providing strategic advice and managing change, such as company-wide cost and technology transformations.

Non-life insurance serves as a central pillar in the sustainability of the insured. Today’s extraordinary levels of uncertainty and instability – which are defining factors at the base of the risk assessment model – demand that we reshape our relationship with change and, more specifically, with risk that is out of our control.

Amid this changing paradigm, brokers will continue to play a critical role in guiding the client’s risk analysis. They can prevent risk through advice and support, adding value in the process, thereby assisting to ring-fence the client’s own strategic growth outlook.

Ultimately, resilience begins with the ability to mitigate risk and the competence to adjust in a volatile environment. In such a scenario, the capacity for recovery and ability to rebuild following a catastrophe has moved to the top of the agenda in reformulated and revised business strategies across all industries – and this is exactly where non-life insurance resides!

The internet of things (IoT), which is rapidly developing new business and commercial models, opens new opportunities in how we provide insurance in the management of risk and in risk mitigation while transforming customer care and business retention strategies. The total installed base of IoT connected devices worldwide is projected to amount to 30.9 billion units by 2025, or an average of 3.5 devices per person globally – a sharp jump from 13.8 billion units in 2021.

 

One size fits none

Trends linked to the specifics of the moment and changing lifestyles dictate a closer relationship with policyholders, which is critical for risk mitigation. The broker’s traditional role comes into its own in this current scenario, supported by a host of intelligent technologies that give a sharper line of sight across the distance between risk prevention and restoration – at both ends of the sustainability scale.

The essence and importance of the one-on-one broker relationship with the client is not lost, but will continue to grow.

Emerging market trend shows rising demand for the customised product choice, with ‘one size fits none’ now growing market sentiment. This puts the spotlight on the importance of a strong network of expert broker partners, offering personalised customer service throughout the life of the policy.

In this context, business model and product innovation rank high in the race to meet the growing demand for more inclusive offerings designed to address evolving lifestyles. Modular, customisable product is increasingly replacing the more generic cover-all approach.

Clients enjoy the personal attention of an expert who is readily available while benefiting from their deep understanding of the environment and localised factors, an approach that remains central to our business model and in pursuit of our pledge to provide service excellence at all times. Emerging technology creates new ways for the broker to assess the client’s risk, cementing the roadmap in the post-Covid era and paving the way to a strong, sustainable position for the insurer in a complex, uneven world.

The World ahead in 2022’, a study by The Economist, predicts Covid 19 will begin to fade in 2022 as new antibody and antiviral treatments as well as better vaccines emerge. Still looking ahead, the Gates Foundation offers significant insight, saying that “average incomes will return to their pre-pandemic levels in 90% of advanced economies, compared with only a third of low- and middle-income economies.”

It bodes well for the Insurance industry in the foreseeable future and in this period of transformation. The outlook demands investment in technology, a focus on skills development for job preservation and ensuring that continued growth and new employment opportunities are prioritised in our industry.

The industry enjoys a well-entrenched culture of continuous learning, fomenting this throughout the value chain is fundamental on the road to protecting the first-class insurance universe our country enjoys today. This is where the essence of the one-on-one model and the technology value leveraged by the mining of big data, use of analytics and business intelligence meet.