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Using data and technology to customers’ advantage ‘a differentiator’ in future

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Insurers are going to have to tread an uneasy path between reducing costs and dealing with customers’ increased demand for products that are tailored to their needs, says Charl Swarts, who took over as Hollard’s Regional General Manager for the East and Southern Cape regions on 1 November 2022.

Digitalisation allows service providers across many sectors to vastly improve their understanding of their customers’ particular needs, and to develop products that are better able to meet these needs – but having a wider variety of product offerings can raise costs.

“How we manage the creative tension between cost reduction and personal service will be a significant challenge … The industry has become a lot more competitive and customer centric, which is a good thing,” says Swarts, who has 30 years of experience in the insurance sector.

Managing this tension will, in large part, come down to insurers’ ability to use data and technology to their own and their customers’ advantage, and technological and data processing prowess will be differentiators in the future, Swarts says.

Other factors that will determine how the insurance industry fares in the region include ensuring greater expertise in the management of newer risks such as cyber, climate and geopolitical risk, and being able to deal with these challenges will be “entry-level competencies for insurers”, he says.

Hollard’s newest regional general manager says he is already enjoying his fresh role. The East and Southern Cape is a special market where “genuine and sincere relationships” are valued.

“This region is a hidden gem in our beautiful country and I’m very privileged to be able to work and play here,” he says.

This focus on relationships in the East and Southern Cape makes brokers vital to the insurance industry in the region, says Swarts.

“Brokers are crucial advocates for the insured. They identify their risk needs and find the best solutions for those needs. They demystify insurance, enabling companies to focus on their business. I just wish more brokers would focus on value and not price!”